`By Rackson Chitanda
The man called Simon Peter, was one of the disciples of Jesus Chris, and had a very humble beginning. He was actually and initially a fisherman. The life of Peter completely changed when Jesus Christ came into his life. To Peter, Jesus said “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means rock) and upon this rock I will build my church and all powers of hell will not conquer it”. Mathew 16:18. And Jesus promised Peter to be given keys of the Kingdom of Heaven saying whatever you forbid on earth, will be forbidden in heaven. He had a duty or responsibility of bringing people to Jesus.
Our Lord Jesus Christ had foreknowledge as to what was going to happen to Peter’s life, as leader of the church and Jesus himself was and is to remain the head of the church. The man of God Peter was strengthened by the pronouncements of the Messiah that Peter was going to receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven. It was a great demonstration of trust by Christ Jesus in Peter. The character of Peter was not of a perfect person, just like no other person is perfect. But Jesus decided to perfect him in every way possible so as not to bring the name of Jesus Christ as master to disgrace. He was anointed to a level that he was able to “Feed Christ’s sheep” to the satisfaction of the appointing Master, until death found him.
The criteria for picking on Peter out of the twelve disciples was the secret that only Christ Jesus was aware of and not to be revealed to man or what we can do, is to look into the life of Peter as a disciple of Christ Jesus, and the performance of Peter after the death of Jesus Christ our Messiah and Saviour.
Love for Jesus: Peter truly and genuinely, loved his Master Christ Jesus. Even though he tumbled – by denying Christ Jesus three times before the cock crew (Mathew 18:24). But he was the only disciple who stood firmly beside Jesus Christ, when soldiers came to arrest Jesus, it was Peter who cut off the ear of a Priest’s servant called Malcheus. In Mathew 26:56, it is said “Then all the disciples forsook him and fled” And in verse 58 it is said, “But Peter followed him a far off into the high Priest’s palace and went in and sat with the servants to see the end”.
Indeed Peter loved Jesus. That was the reason why he never feared the presence of fierce soldiers who came to arrest our Savior Christ Jesus. He was brave enough to draw his sword and fight.
It is one thing to claim to love Jesus, but the other to serve him as did Peter and his fellow disciples. At Pentecost, Peter delivered the first public sermon, resulting in about three thousand listeners believing in Jesus Christ. (Acts 2: 1-41) The event at Pentecost, revealed to us what is meant to “Feed my Sheep”. It is to preach, evangelize or witnessing for Christ. This is done and must be done in order to bring salvation to the multitude. To bring people out of the darkness of not knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord, savior and Messiah who is the son of God and who said, “No one came to my Father except through me”. (John 14:6). This is the prime duty of the Priesthood. To take the gospel to all corners of the earth.
Protestations in his preaching made Peter a very strong preacher of the word. And he proved to the world by his travels, his preparedness to serve Jesus to the end of time. Mathew 28:20.
In the book of 1st Peter 4:6, it is written “The gospel was preached to the dead”. Human as we are, who would believe that the dead also can receive the teachings of the word. And yet by the Holy Spirit, Peter reveals to humanity that even the dead received the word and live according to God in Spirit.
Many people in the early church had concerns about life and death. In Thessalonica, Christians worried that loved ones who died before Christ’s return might never see Christ. (1st Thess. 4: 13-18) since in verse 15, Peter says this is directly from the Lord, it could mean that he had a direct revelation from God or he heard this being said by Jesus Christ in his discussions with his disciples. When it came to preaching, Peter really did his best to feed the Lord’s sheep with the word of the Kingdom of God, the gospel.
Peter loved people: Despite that the core responsibility of Peter was to preach the word of God, he never neglected the welfare of the people he met in his life, who were believers or non-believers (Acts 6:1-5). As leader of the church, he had to ensure that those under the care of the church had adequate food, as a system was put in place for fair distribution of such resources. It was partly because of this fairness in food distribution and other caring activities carried among the believers of the early church that the numbers of believers increased in thousands per each particular day. We can all emulate the attitude of the leaders of the early church, in a way we conduct ourselves towards God’s work. To be like Peter in the manner we lead God’s people is to succeed in our quest to “Feed the Lords sheep” to the satisfaction of the Lord, our Saviour and Messiah Christ Jesus.
Providing social needs of church members will motivate membership to even assert themselves positively to all matters of the God’s kingdom, not only in the church, but as in all places they will find themselves and people will be quick to identify them as Christians.
The Holy spirit will only use people who are committed and dedicated to heavenly matters. If Peter was not of the above, great numbers could not have been adding to the church membership. Peter was highly obedient to the instructions of the Holy Spirit. How else was he able to manage the church in Jerusalem, and other satellite congregations in Antioch, Iconium, Joppa and when we think of the success of the early church, we often think of the work of the Apostles like that of Peter and his workmates. The church could not have succeeded; it could have not thrived if it had not been for the unsung heroes, who had respect for team work and the will to preach the gospel to all nations.
As Peter went along feeding the Lord’s sheep, he exercised patience in dealing with problems that confronted the early church.
Endurance: Working for Christ is never always easy going. It is this scenario of suffering by Peter for Jesus that offers the faithful in the word, great hope and comfort. Knowing that, as we endure suffering and serve God truthfully, we shall not die, but have ever lasting life. Those who serve Christ should be ready to be ridiculed rejected and all manner of embarrassment. It is not always that people will shower upon believers genuine greeting and blessings. Persecution even from our fellow believers is very possible. Peter endured persecution as was organized by his fellow Jews. Peter was really a Jew (Acts 10:28-29). Peter was also hated by Herod Agrippa who died a terrible death after accepting what people said about him, that his voice was like that of God and not man Act 12: 20-23. He was the same Herod Agrippa who imprisoned Peter, chained him to iron bars. Then a miracle occurred. Acts 12: 1-24.
Peter was a man of great integrity and of highest virtue. It was so because, in him was goodness, nobleness, in him was great loyalty, courage, truthfulness and tolerance. Just like Peter, we are now privileged to belong to God’s family, a community with Christ as the founder and foundation. Everyone in this community is related, we are all brothers and sisters, loved equally by God as our Lord and Father. When this truth of fellowship is realized, then those who lead fellow believers will be like Peter, with loving care, mercy, humbleness, self-control, committed and dedication to God’s duty. The Spirit of God will be upon us as we shall also exercise patience. Only in this way will numbers of believers add in thousands. And when we pray, God will hear us up in heaven. Praise be to God Jehovah Alpha and Omega – Amen.