Who you believe you are makes all the difference in life. It did for Peter.
Last Sunday, my pastor shared the difference between the pre-Pentecost Peter and the post-Pentecost Peter. Picture a strong, boisterous man, hands rough from handling fishing nets, outlook on life seasoned by unpredictable daily catches and the harsh climate of Roman-ruled Israel. We meet Simon Peter in the Gospel of Matthew, while he is fishing with his brother on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus recruits him and eventually Peter’s revelation that Jesus is the Son of God becomes the rock on which Jesus builds His Church.
Peter’s personality often amuses us as well as confounds us. He is brash, direct but loving and sincere. He is used by the devil to threaten Jesus’ destiny yet readily accepts the truth that Jesus Christ is the fullness of God in a human body. This pre-Pentecost Peter makes us cringe each time he denies Jesus out of fear of being identified by the Roman police force.
Here is a man who knows God more intimately than most of us, yet after Jesus’ death, he returns to being a fisher of fish, assuming that he has disqualified himself from that higher call of being a fisher of men. Hopeless, he returns to the Sea of Galilee.
When Jesus meets Peter the first time, he calls him up out of the Sea. In the Bible, seas often represent sin and evil. Jesus gives Peter the opportunity the abandon sin to embrace a new life. Years later, does Peter understand the meaning of Jesus’ words to him? “I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18) Peter’s name means “rock”. Jesus establishes a new identity for Peter but Peter, bless his heart, doesn’t get it.
However Post-Pentecost Peter is certain, convinced, fully persuaded and enveloped in his righteousness identity. He spoke with authority of a man who knew His God.
What happened to him?
While Peter was back in his fishing boat, the resurrected Jesus appears to him and initiates a conversation. “Do you love these more than me?” is the questionJesus asks. Jesus is asking Peter, “Peter, do you live these fish, do you love being a fisherman, do you love this identity, more than what I have to give to you?” Each time Peter answers, Jesus gives him an authoritative mandate. It took three denials for Peter to lose himself, but three assents to discover his redeemed self, a man of authority.
Jesus’ church, established upon the belief in His divine identity, must understand her redemptive identity as His spotless Bride and reject her former identity. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The seas of “who we once were” will always tempt us to return after we think we’ve let Jesus down. However, Jesus establishes who we are. Our God-defined identity gives us the authority to stand and the gates of Hades will not prevail against us.
About the Author:
Tina Webb is the author of the fantasy fiction novelette, Abba’s Lament which illustrates the nature of God the Father, as He experiences the rejection of one of His own. Her newest release is a inspirational devotional, Selah: Daily Quotes for Daily Meditation, co-written with her best friend, Sena Woodall. Tina is married to Doug and the mother of six. Besides writing, she enjoys homeschooling her children, leading worship for prayer meetings, and cooking. She writes about topics related to her books on her author blog: beforethebeginningbook.blogspot.com