The twelve: Peter

They were unknowns. No credentials no stand-out talents, no royal bloodlines, nothing. They are fishermen, tax collector, a political outcast, a skeptic, and a corrupt traitor. They are humans, weak, poor, despised, flawed, sinful – common in every way, ordinary in every definition.

Yet they are chosen. Yet they are used by Him. Yet their works was so fruitful. True, one of them fails, but the rest were heroes of faith. They went scattered in every corner of the earth, preaching, doing miracles, comforting others, bringing the gospel, prosecuted, crucified in upright position, crucified in head down, beheaded, stabbed by spears, boiled and exiled. They were sinners; traitor to their own kin, fanatic, one of them is even a terrorist. They were boastful, arrogant, yet they are slow to understand and clueless at times. They are ”aggramatoi idiotai” as Luke referred them, or literally, illiterate ignorant. But they were exalted and remembered as heroes of faith.

They are twelve ordinary men, just like us. But they have an extra-ordinary teacher. The Lord Himself is their teacher. Around eighteen months He was with them. Shaped them for greatness, prepares them for what they will be doing after He go back to the Father, teaches them about the truth, shows them miracles, gave them Spirit, rebukes them, love them. And that is how the ordinary men, becomes extra-ordinary tools of the Lord. They are still ordinary human, not a superhuman - do not dehumanize them – they are just like us. But that is exactly why we need to know them, and how God can shape our lives.

They are the twelve apostles: Simon (a.k.a. Peter, Cephas), Andrew, James, John, Philip, Nathanael (a.k.a. Bartholomew), Thomas, Matthew (a.k.a. Levi), another James, Thaddeus (a.k.a. Lebbaeus, Judas), Simon, and Judas Iscariot. The twelve chosen by the Nazarene, with a call that changed their lives, in a way they never imagine, forever.

The first of the twelve is Simon, nicknamed Rock. The Rock (did you smeeeellll..). It is interesting to see that he was given this kind of nickname. You see, he was not a dependable guy. He was brash, vacillating, and undependable. He made great promises that he couldn’t follow, and yet he was the Rock. It is almost like calling a skinny, weak guy “Bulldog” (or calling me “the skinny guy”). He will become a rock later on, but he was not the rock that you can depend on when he got that nickname. And yet, he was ‘the first’, not in the sense of his glory, but in the sense of leadership.

All things being said and done, it is a fact that he has the raw material of a leader. He is inquisitive, possessing initiative, and he has the desire to be involved. He can be seen asking numerous questions. He is always brave and in front of his peers in terms of expressing his minds. Raw talent it is, but it was unrefined. While he has the potential to be a good leader, he also has all the potential to go haywire. He let his mouth get better of himself numerous times. You can hear Jesus commending him at one time, but rebuking him in just moment later. He even has the bravery to scold his teacher! He is in every sense a Sanguine-Choleric type of guy.

But we saw how the time he spent with Jesus changed his life and character. He learned to be humble when he saw his teacher, whom he knows is the Christ, humbled Himself to wash his feet, and even died on the cross. He learned how to do self-restraint (something the most leader will always struggle) when he deny him three times (with curses as a bonus package), while just hours before he said that he will never do that. He learned courage, not the kind of courage he shows when he cut the priest assistant’s ear, but the courage to testify and preach the gospel. The Lord teaches him through the life experience and the example He gave to Peter.

We can read in some verses that Jesus call him by ‘Simon’ while in other times He called him ‘Peter’. Interestingly, Jesus calls him ‘Simon’ whenever he was not being ‘the Rock’ he meant to be. In a way, it was a gentle rebuke for him. I can imagine Peter pleading in his heart: “Please.. Please.. Call me Peter.. Don’t call me Simon..” when he was being rebuked by Jesus. However, it was this reminder that Jesus gave to him that mold him to become “Simon the Peter”, not “Simon who is sometimes Peter”, or “Simon who most of the time Peter” (or even “Simon who everyone hope to be Peter at least once in a while”).

Did you see how similarly striking Peter to ourselves sometimes? Did you reflect on yourselves when you read about the mistakes Peter did throughout his life? Are you facing the same problems right now in your spiritual life?

If yes, then know this: God is capable of changing Simon into Peter in a considerably short time, He also can change us. As I said before, the twelve are ordinary people with an extra-ordinary God. Invite Him into your heart, let Him shape you and always obey Him when He rebukes you. He will not devoid us from temptations and ordeals. At times He let us go through those temptations, tests and ordeals in our lives, just like Peter did. But He is with us, and praying for us so that we may not lose our faith, just like He did to Peter.

How did Peter life’s end? Jesus told him that he will be a martyr, but the Bible never told us how exactly. But Eusebius recorded the testimony of Clement who witness how he died: He was forced to witness his wife crucified before him. As he watched her being led to death he called her by her name and said: “Remember the Lord”. And as he was going to take his turn, he asked to be crucified head down because he felt unworthy of being crucified in the same way as the Lord.

He was a brash, proud, and undependable guy before; a dependable, humble, compassionate, faithful leader after. He is Simon the Peter, fishermen from Galilee. Ordinary people like you and me, with an extra-ordinary God beside him.



There was a time when I lost my desire to write and to share. There was a time when I didn't see the point of doing a blog to express my thought. I am who I am though, inconsistent as I am in doing this blog, but I do want to share and I do long to write. Today I'm giving it another go. Fingers crossed. But I still wish that "Let there be light" is the message that I convey.
  • January 1st 2012, Kristo