This week we begin a new series writing about the twelve apostles. These are the men who started the church two thousand years ago. We look at what they wrote and how they did it for direction in how to live today.
If asked to name these twelve men, I could have listed maybe half – if given a little time to think about it. While some are easy to remember, like Peter and John, others –– not so much. How many of you would have listed Nathanael? No? Well good for you, ‘cause he wasn’t one of the twelve. And to make it harder, there were two named Simon and two named James.
Anyway… I have always marked my lack of remembering up to, I’m not good with names.
When you think of the stories in the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament) the next most mentioned man after Jesus is Peter. But the name given to him by his father was Simon, which means “listen,” (like me, that may not have been his strongest characteristic), Jesus changed his name to Peter, which means “rock,” and depending on what Peter had just said determined which name Jesus called him.
Well, that certainly happened to me while growing up. My parents named me Cynthia Diane and called me Cindy. I have never preferred Cynthia. Most likely because when I had done something that required discipline, my mother would call out “Cynthia Diane!” I knew! Yes ma’am, I knew that I was in trouble. Jesus did the same to Peter. When he had stepped up and said profound things that only God could have revealed to him, Jesus called him Peter. But when he put his foot in his mouth and did or said things that he should have known better, Jesus called him Simon.
Peter was the master of saying and doing things he shouldn’t, BUT he was also the one who stepped out in faith and said and did things that we marvel at even today.
It was Peter who stepped out of the boat and walked on water to go to Jesus when the other eleven were white–knuckled, hanging onto the boat in the storm, sure that they would sink and drown.
But it was Simon who sprang forward in an attempt to cut the head off of one of the hundreds of soldiers who had come to capture Jesus and, when the solider ducked to miss the blow, Peter only sliced his ear off.
After Jesus’ resurrection, the success of the church was left in the hands of these men. Jesus knew it would take a man like Peter to start this movement. And on Pentecost, when they were filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly stood up in front of the very people who had called for Jesus to be crucified less than two months earlier and preached repentance. Acts 2 tells us that three thousand believed that day.
This is the same apostle who denied even knowing Jesus three times during those early morning hours. And while we often look at the incident and criticize Peter for his lack of faith, let’s keep in mind, he and one other disciple were the only ones who followed Jesus to the high priest’s house to see what would become of Jesus (John 18:15). Peter was the only one close enough for Jesus to turn and look him in the eyes when the rooster crowed (Luke 22:61). Long after the others had fled in fear, Peter was virtually alone in a position where such temptations could snare him because, despite his fear and weakness, he couldn’t abandon Christ completely.
That’s the kind of leader Peter was.
I cannot imagine how Peter must have felt the moment that rooster began to crow. Talk about self-condemnation! But resurrected Jesus spent precious time with Peter helping him to heal those scars, asking him, “Peter, do you love me?” (John 21:15-25).
Jesus does that for us!
When I put my foot in my mouth or do things I shouldn’t and warrant “Cynthia Diane,” Jesus waits with my healing.
He loves us as much as He loved Peter. He doesn’t want us to walk in condemnation. That was paid for on the cross. And just like Peter was able to step into his calling after he accepted his healing, we too must accept our healing from past mistakes and step into what Jesus has for us to do.
Today is the day! Receive your healing and step out of the boat.
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Cindy Willingham is a landscape designer, small group leader, avid encourager, and sinner saved by grace who is ten years new to Birmingham, Alabama. Her sweet husband of 38 years, two married children and four grand-kiddos fill her life with unbelievable fun and sweet snuggles. She thinks God is awesome and that the best adventure starts with saying yes to that still, small voice. ~ To read Cindy’s BoP Bio click here.