One of the infinitely amazing things about the Bible is the numerous personalities that form the framework for the historical accounts. No matter what you’ve been through, are going through, or will go through, there is most likely someone documented in the Bible who has experienced a similar circumstance. Loss, trials, temptations, failures, but also faithful men and women, successful models for Christian living, and those who like each of us, have experienced the ups and downs of this life. Who among us doesn’t know what it’s like to fail? Likely most of us have fallen, and fallen hard and we may look at our lives, focusing mainly on the failures and wonder, can God still use me? For a perfect example of this, we need look no further than the Apostle Peter. Through Peter we learn not only can God use the fallen, weak, failures, but these are the people whom He recruits, these are those whom He sets aside for greatness because they show the full power of God’s glory, to resurrect the old, dead, sinful self as a new creation in Christ.
In Matthew 4:19 NKJV, Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilee and calls out to two men fishing, Andrew and his brother Simon, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” If we move over to our subject passage in John 1:42, Andrew comes first then goes to get his brother Simon and as our Lord meets him He says, “You are Simon son of John. You shall be called Cephas.” This simple address to Simon is monumental. Think about what Jesus has just said here, we know that Jesus, in His incarnation, is all knowing. He knew the failures that Peter would have in life, he knew his temperament, knew everything about him, yet at the instant they meet He changes Simon’s name to Cephas, which is Aramaic for “Rock” and Greek for Peter. This is an absolutely fascinating encounter and gives hope to all of us about our own lives, because God also knows everything about us, every failure, weakness, and fear, yet He can transform each one of us for His use, just as we’ll see with Peter. Can’t you just picture Jesus saying, “Ahh, so this is Simon. Well Simon it’s great to meet you finally. You don’t know it yet, but I’ve chosen you to be my Rock and to prove this, I’m going to call you Cephas because on you, my Rock, I will build my church.” That statement of changing Simon’s name forecasts the transformational power that Jesus will carry out in Peter’s life.
Likely, each of us is familiar with the cautionary tales of Peter. In Matthew 14, He requests of Jesus to walk on water so that he may join Him, but as he begins to walk, he loses faith and sinks, only to be rescued by Jesus who states, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” It’s Peter’s lack of faith that gets remembered, but we shouldn’t forget that before falling, he was walking on water. Later on, when asked by Jesus who do you [apostles] say that I am, Peter responds by proclaiming, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16 NKJV Yet in just a few short verses later he rebukes Jesus’ foreshadowing of His crucifixion and receives his own reprimand from Jesus, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” This is coming on the heels of Peter being proclaimed the rock on which Christ would build His church. Matthew 16:18-19 I don’t know if there’s a better example of the inconsistencies of the Christian life than that of Peter. Up and down he goes, like the boat out of which he climbed before beginning his walk on water, but he hasn’t nearly gone low enough. It’s not until his denial of Christ, not once, but three times that he hits rock bottom, broken by his sin. Matthew 26:69-75 NKJV So it is with our own lives. Salvation in Jesus is not the end, but the beginning. It begins the process of becoming more Christ like each day and that includes stumbles and falls, but we get up, just like Peter did, and grow stronger in Jesus each time. Jesus chose Peter to be His apostle knowing full well that He would deny Him, but Christ chose him anyway and declared him “the rock” upon their first meeting, because He knew that through his failures Peter would transform into the man that would be the central figure in the early Christian church. No matter what sins you’ve committed in life, there can likely be none greater than denying the Lord 3 times, yet Peter is still used greatly by God to advance the Gospel and establish churches throughout the region.
Are you allowing your past sins and failures to hold you back from being used by God? If so, you’re exactly the broken vessel that God wants to recreate in Him and use for His own purposes. Bring your sins to Jesus, confess them and He’ll begin the transformational process so that He may begin the good work in you too.
Philippians 1:6 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Matthew 11:28-30 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”