Lesson's from the Life of Peter Week One
by Jenny Smith 4/09/2007 / Bible Studies
This week, Peter is going to teach us, in all his humanity, some very practical lessons. I absolutely love that he is able to teach us, even in the failures.
Oh, I hope we are willing to let this take root. At the end of these six weeks, I want us all to be different. I want us to be bolder, more willing to follow Christ anywhere, able to reach out and help people. Does that sound like a plan for you too?
The first time we see Peter stumble is in Matthew 14:22-32. As you read through this, identify where Peter faltered.
Can you believe he walked on water? How bold is that? Why do you think Peter said, Tell me to come to you on the water?
In one way it seems crazy. Peter is in a boat with all the disciples, and when he sees Jesus walking on the water, he makes the leap in his head, If Jesus can so can I. Can you think of why he may have had that thought process?
Stay in Matthew, but back up to chapter 10:1, 8. List what Jesus told his disciples to go and do.
Do you think they did what he said? You can find the answer for sure in Mark 6:12-13.
Now we can see why Peter was in the frame of mind to ask, Let me walk on the water. They had just been doing the exact same thing that Jesus had been doing. So Peter assumed that if Jesus could walk on water, he could too. Was he correct?
Yes, he was. We know this because Peter did actually walk on the water, and because Jesus said, over and over in the Gospels, that we are to do what He did. We have His Holy Spirit living in us! So Peter was rightly following Jesus, but what happened?
Verse 30 of Matthew 14 says that when Peter saw the wind he became afraid and started to sink. Now have any of you ever seen the wind? I have not either, so let us reason through this and see if we can put it in perspective.
In John 6:16-21, John tells us they were about 3 or 3½ miles from shore. That is a good distance, and more than likely Peter could not see the shore. There would not have been lights like we have; just early morning darkness. So how did Peter see the wind?
I am going to share with you what I THINK might have been possible, based on the text. I think Peter looked back to smile at his friends and saw the boat being hit by the waves and tossed about. As soon as he took his eyes from Jesus he became afraid, his faith disappeared, and he started to sink. Re-read Matthew 14:21-32, and see if that rings true to you.
So what lessons can we learn here?
Firstly, I see we should be bold in following Jesus example. Ask Him to work through you in a mind-blowing way.
Secondly, we need to make sure we keep our eyes focused on Him, or we will see the wind. That can cause our faith to falter.
Thirdly, never be afraid of crying out: Lord save me!
I think Jesus smiled as he said, You of little faith, why did you doubt? He was there to reach out and save Peter, and He will reach out and save us too.
Today, let us be bold and take a step of faith on the water!
I think we are going to get a chuckle out of todays text—this is so me! Matthew 16:13-20 is where we will start. After you read it, explain how you would feel if Jesus said that same thing to you.
I know how I would feel. I would have a big head!
For a minute, imagine you are there, and Jesus is asking the whole group to tell him what people are saying about Him. Who do they say I am?
Everybody has answers, but not great answers. Then, based on your answer, Jesus says Blessed are you, and upom this I will build my church,and I am going to give you the keys of heaven.
Would you not have gotten a big head too?
Peter must have thought the same thing, because in the next verses, as Jesus is explaining that He would be killed and raised, Peter decides to have a talk with Jesus. In Matthew 16:22 what did Peter do?
He rebuked Jesus! Can you even imagine? Yes, I can because I have, and maybe you have too. Sometimes we just do not like what Jesus says in His Word, and we either argue it or ignore it. Can you think of something in your life like that?
I can. Does submission ring a bell? I do not always like the fact that God says women are to submit to their husbands. In our early years of marriage, Chad would have laughed if someone asked if I would follow his lead. I always thought I knew as much (if not more) than him. So I chose to ignore this part of the Bible or, on a bad day, argue it with Eloise.
That is what Peter was doing. He thought he knew as much, or more, than Jesus. When I choose to ignore Gods Word or argue it, I am doing the same thing.
Write what Jesus says back to Peter in verse 23 of Matthew 16.
That is strong, but in my situation with Chad, Jesus would say the same thing to me. I was a stumbling block to my husband, as well as to our girls. I did not have the things of God in mind; I had the things of Jenny in mind.
Can you think of an area in your life, either now or in the past, where you have basically told Jesus you know more than Him?
Peters response is not given, but we can give our response. In my case, I have made huge inroads in following Chads lead. I am still not a poster child for submission, but I am trying! How about you?
Are you having fun yet? Peter is so likable! I bet he was a blast to be around—passionate, crazy, headstrong, talkative and relentless. Can you think of any other ways to describe him?
Did that relentless part cause you to pause? I think he was relentless because, no matter how bad he goofed, he kept following Jesus. Thats our goal—to realize we may goof up, but if our hearts are truly Gods we wont be able to keep from following!
Today we aree going to see another example of Peters mouth in action. While it does not get him into trouble, it is just so like us.
In Matthew 17:1-4, we find Jesus taking Peter, James and John up on the mountain. Record what Jesus did:
Who showed up?
Now get the picture in your mind—the four of them are on the mountain and Jesus starts shining like the sun. His clothes become white, and Moses and Elijah, who are dead, show up and start talking with Him. In Luke 9 we get a few more details. Peter, James and John were sleepy but became fully awake when this happened. (I imagine so!)
When Moses and Elijah leave, what does Peter recommend? (Matthew 17:4)
What lesson can we learn here?
Maybe at times we should just take things in and not be so fast with our recommendations. For some reason, this strikes a chord in me. We see Jesus move in some way, we see Him in His glory, and we come up with a way to keep it going, when really all we need to do is keep following Him and taking in the sights around us.
We have been looking at Peter faltering (which sounds nicer than failing, right?) in his early days as an apostle. We are going to save the big failure for next week, and devote all week to it because at times we dont falter, we fail. This week, though, we are looking at failures that are pretty common to all of us. Can you name the ones we have discussed so far?
I think of them as:
· Getting focused on my circumstances more than on who Jesus is;
· Forgetting that Jesus always knows more than me, and if I find myself arguing a point with Him, I am wrong;
· Not having the good sense to know when to keep my thoughts to myself, at least until I am sure of what is going on.
Today we are going to see Peter falter by being what we may call people pleaser.
Before we start, can you think of a time when you turned your back on someone in order to gain or keep the approval of others?
I have three daughters—Meghan 14, Katie 10, and Lauren 8—and I see this in their lives. When I see it, I try to tell them it is wrong and hurtful. Why is it easier for me to see it in their young lives, when I may be guilty of the same thing?
I have a friend whose family has something going on in their lives that causes me to feel embarrassed to be with them. I am always ashamed of myself, but whenever it comes up, I have to really make myself be a friend.
Thankfully I have another friend who calls me on it and keeps me accountable to do the right thing, even if I struggle through it. You see, the thing is, I worry about what people will think of me when I am with them. These are good Christian friends, and it is not an area of sin. It is just that something is going on in their lives that is, personally, quite hard on me. It is something I am embarrassed by.
Can you think of a situation in your life where you worry, or have worried, about what people will say?
In Galatians 2:11-14, read and describe what Peter did.
What did Paul do?
How does that make you feel?
Why do think, after all that time, Peter would have made a mistake like that?
He is human—and so are we. As long as we are breathing, we are going to falter. We just have to be willing to admit it and repent.
No matter how far we come, we will never be perfect. Faltering will always be a part of our lives. The key is to choose to be relentless like Peter, and keep pursuing Jesus.
Today is our prayer day. Did one of these areas jump out at you as something that you may be faltering in?
If so, spend today praying that you will grow in that area. Pray that you will become an example that others can follow.
If none of these areas jumped out at you personally, pray for someone you thought of as you worked through the study this week.
The verses I am using today are from Peter, in 2 Peter 1:3-4. I am planning on writing them using my own situation and name. You may want to do the same thing also.
Your divine power has given me everything I need for life and Godliness. Because of my knowledge of You and Your goodness, I know I can walk in submission. You have given me great and precious promises that I can let Your Holy Spirit work through me and escape the corruption of this world. I know that if You say submission is best, then it is. Help me to see that. Help me to recognize the benefits when I choose to submit to Chad, and let me see the downside when I do not.
Thank You for inspiring Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and letting us see Peter in all his faltering, so that we, too, can learn from his lessons. Amen