You open your Bible, running your fingers over the worn leather cover. Today, you feel drawn to learn more about Simon, one of the fascinating people who crossed paths with Jesus during his ministry. As you begin reading the Gospels, you learn that several men named Simon are mentioned, so you aren’t entirely sure at first which Simon’s story you want to explore further.
But the more you read, the more intrigued you become by Simon Peter—the fisherman who became one of Jesus’ twelve disciples.
Simon Peter’s Call to Follow Jesus
You discover that Simon Peter’s brother Andrew introduced him to Jesus, according to John 1:40-42:
One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone). (NKJV)
This passage sparks your curiosity. Why did Jesus give Simon the name “Cephas,” which means “a stone” in Aramaic? As you continue reading, you gain more insight into Simon Peter’s significance.
In Matthew 4:18-20, you read how Jesus called Simon Peter and his brother Andrew to follow him:
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. (NKJV)
Simon Peter and Andrew demonstrated great faith by leaving their livelihoods immediately to become Jesus’ disciples. Their example challenges you to consider what you would be willing to give up to follow Christ.
Simon Peter’s Declaration about Jesus
As you delve further into the Gospels, you discover one of the most pivotal conversations between Jesus and Simon Peter. In Matthew 16:13-19, Jesus asks his disciples who people say he is. Simon Peter answers:
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And 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. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (NKJV)
You now understand why Jesus gave Simon the name “Cephas” or “Peter,” which means “rock” – his declaration that Jesus is the Messiah provides the foundational truth upon which Christ would build his church. What a humbling thought, that your own declaration and belief in Christ secures you as part of that unshakeable foundation!
Simon Peter’s Walking on Water
As Simon Peter spent more time with Jesus, his faith was tested and stretched. One powerful example you encounter is Matthew 14:22-33, when Jesus walks on water and invites Peter to join him:
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” (NKJV)
What bold faith Peter demonstrates by climbing out of the boat to walk on the waves toward Jesus! Yet like you and me, his faith wavered when he encountered the wind and waves. As you walk with Christ, Peter’s example inspires you to exercise bold faith while acknowledging your need for Jesus to catch you when your faith starts sinking.
Simon Peter’s Denial of Jesus
Your heart becomes heavy as you reach the passages about Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. You read how Simon Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, even after insisting earlier he would remain loyal:
And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself…Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not!” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed. (John 18:15-18, 25-27 NKJV)
What sorrow and remorse Peter must have felt at denying Jesus after all they had been through together. At this moment in Scripture, you identify with Peter’s weakness and take comfort that even great disciples of Jesus fail and need forgiveness.
Simon Peter’s Restoration and Leadership
The Gospels reveal beautiful stories of redemption and hope. Following His resurrection, Jesus lovingly restores Peter and commissions him to feed and tend His sheep:
So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.” (John 21:15-17 NKJV)
In this intimate conversation, Jesus gives Peter the opportunity to reaffirm his love and commitment three times – once for each denial. The grace and forgiveness Jesus extends to Peter assure you that Christ will welcome you back lovingly whenever you stumble or fail Him.
As you finish reading Acts, you clearly recognize Simon Peter’s emergence as a key leader of the early church. At Pentecost, it was Peter who preached boldly to the crowd and called them to repent and be baptized. The Holy Spirit empowered Peter to perform miracles and spread the gospel with authority. As you close your Bible, you feel grateful for the lessons you’ve learned from tracing Simon Peter’s spiritual journey with Christ. Though imperfect, Peter was transformed by Jesus’ love and empowered to lead others.
Key Takeaways on Simon Peter’s Life:
- Simon Peter left his fishing trade immediately when Jesus called him to be a disciple. His example challenges you to obey Christ’s call fully.
- Peter’s declaration that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” became the rock-solid foundation upon which Christ built His church.
- When Peter faltered in his faith walking on the water, Jesus caught him. This reminds you to step out in bold faith while relying on Christ to uphold you.
- Though Peter denied knowing Jesus, Christ forgave him completely and restored him to leadership. This gives you hope that Jesus will always take you back when you fail him.
- On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit empowered Peter to preach the gospel with boldness and authority. This shows that Christ can use anyone – despite their weaknesses – to advance His Kingdom.
Simon Peter’s story gives you a more complete picture of what it means to follow Christ. His example encourages you on your own spiritual journey. No matter how badly you stumble, Jesus will catch you, forgive you, restore you, and empower you to bring Him glory through your life.