Immediately

He had just cast his net into the sea when he heard a voice.

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

He didn’t know the voice, but something about it must have compelled him, because he dropped his net immediately and followed the stranger.

Of all people in Scripture, I think I relate the most to Peter. He loves deeply, intensely, and with tremendous devotion.

But sometimes he says the wrong thing.

Okay, more than sometimes.

In any case, I think the word “immediately” used to describe his reaction to Christ could categorize a good bit of his thinking. He’s sort of clumsily “all-in” with his love.

He is the first of the disciples to pipe up when Jesus asks the disciples if they know who He is, and I imagine him responding a little like me as an eager middle-schooler, hand raised and ready to be praised for my answer. He’s impetuous, but he means well. Gold star, Peter.

One day I want to write a book on his life, because I feel so emotionally charged when I read about him. There are so many details that stir me to tears, because I feel like I’m there with him in it all.

In the water, net in hand.

I heard Him and I dropped what I had been clinging to, even though it was all I knew at the time. I really didn’t spend a lot of time worrying what I was going to do next, or where He was taking me. I’m either “all-in” or “not at all” myself.

Have you ever read the Bible and chuckled to yourself? I assure you, there is humor there if you allow yourself to imagine it. God is the Author of humor, and I genuinely believe He snuck in a few good one-liners for all of us who appreciate wit and timing (hand raised. Gold star, Angie).

At the Last Supper, Jesus tells the disciples He is going to wash their feet. It’s clearly a sacred and holy moment, and as He approaches Peter, Peter resists Him. He tells Jesus that He will never wash his feet (notice the use of the word “never.” We extremists like to jump there. You know, like, immediately.) I presume this statement was accompanied by head-shaking or some other physical motion to emphasize that it wasn’t going to happen. This was Jesus! The Son of God certainly didn’t need to be washing anyone’s feet. Peter saw that, and spoke up. Never. Never. NEVER. As in, not ever. Not now, not in a million years. It isn’t happening.

Well, Jesus responds to Him in approximately ten words and the next thing we hear Peter say is:

“Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” (John 13:9)

Umm, okay. So maybe never was a little bit strong. And now that I’ve had a few seconds to reconsider, let’s go ahead and do the whole shebang, huh? Why stop with the feet? If you want this to happen I’ll grab some shampoo and body wash and we’ll call it a day.

Sweet Peter. He goes from “never” to “head-to-toe” faster than most people can tie their shoelaces.

I get it. I mean, I totally, completely get it (totally, completely. Not that I’m extreme.)

If you heard my Women of Faith talk this year, you will already know one of my favorite stories in the entire Bible, and it involves Peter. If you want to read it, it happens in Matthew 14. The short version is that Jesus tells Peter to walk on water and he steps out of the boat in faith. Wouldn’t you just figure he was the one who called out to Jesus and then climbed into the impossible?

He does okay for a little bit. Step by step he gets closer to the Lord.

But then he realizes the waves are huge, and he doubts. He starts to drown.

Yep. Been there.

I’m going to skip some of my favorite details for the sake of brevity (and because I really do want to write a book and I think there is a lot more here than a blog post), but the next thing we know, Peter is reaching out to Jesus, asking Him to save him from the sea.

And I love this.

I LOVE THIS (I’m fairly certain Peter would have loved italics and bold, capital letters)

Scripture says this:

“Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him.” (Matthew 14:31)

Immediately. 

{Eutheōs}

We see this word approximately 30 times in the New Testament, and one of the other occasions is when we read about the way Peter responded when he first heard the voice of the Lord.

Remember? He immediately dropped his net to follow. No dilly-dallying. You called out to me and I responded right away. Jesus is doing the same here, and I can imagine that as His arm dove into the deep, Peter might have remembered what it was like to be a fishermen in desperate need of a Savior.

I know I do.

Peter wasn’t born with the name “Peter,” but rather, “Simon.” Jesus Himself named him Peter, meaning, “the rock.”

Does it surprise you at all that Jesus chose a man like Peter to be a “rock” of the faith? After all, let’s not forget what Peter had yet to do at this point. At the same dinner that Jesus washes his feet, He tells Peter that he will deny Him three times. Peter argues that passionately, saying he would rather die than deny Christ (Not just, “I won’t do that, Lord,” but “I WOULD RATHER DIE!” Well, at least he’s consistent).

I can’t help but wince when I read those words, because as we know, all the passion in that moment didn’t translate when Peter was on the spot a few hours later. He did, in fact, deny His Christ three times, and when he heard the rooster crow, he remembered the Lord’s words. He wept bitterly as he considered his betrayal.

Three times, he says he doesn’t know Him. And I’m sure he said it with all the intensity that characterized his life.  What must it have been like, on that dark night, as Peter considered that he had been too weak to defend his King? As the Lord was beaten, bloody, hung to die while mocked relentlessly-was Peter weeping over his actions somewhere else in the night?

We have no reason to believe he was at the crucifixion of Christ. Maybe he was still too terrified of what the crowds might do to someone who had been associated with Jesus. Or maybe he was swallowed by his shame, his regret too profound to even move towards the cross.

Have you ever felt a shame that told you that you weren’t worthy to be near the cross? I hasten to guess that you have. The enemy of our souls wouldn’t have it any other way, I’m afraid.

Regardless of where he was in that particular moment, it isn’t the last we will hear from Peter. Not by a long-shot, in fact. He will rise to become a great evangelist, proclaiming the name of Christ to people everywhere, no doubt in boldness. But what about in-between? Did this man ever wonder if he could truly be forgiven for his sin?

The risen Christ reveals Himself to Mary the Magdalene, who runs to tell the apostles. For the most part, they don’t believe her. But there is one who does.

“But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.” (Luke 24: 12

I would imagine it was immediately, wouldn’t you?

Maybe he had the same thought I have, many times over.

He is real.

And that means there is still a chance for me to dedicate the rest of my life to Him, no matter how many times I have failed Him in the past.

Just today, as I read the words I am about to share with you, I cried in the corner of a coffee shop over the power of what the Lord chose for Simon Peter. Suffice it to be said, God is a phenomenal writer-never missing the imagery and symbolism that brings you to your knees in worship. It’s not lost on me, and I pray it isn’t lost on you either.

Peter knows in theory that Jesus has risen from the dead. He has heard the stories and while he believes on some intellectual level, he hasn’t experienced Him in person. If this was a movie playing, wouldn’t you long to know what happened next? Wouldn’t you be curled up in your chair, wondering if he would ever have the chance to speak to Jesus again?

Maybe it’s just me. Say it’s not just me.

In the 21st chapter of John, we have the scene that, for me, sketches out the beauty of the Gospel in a way that no chapters of my own life can disagree with…

 

(To be continued very soon… I’m pretty sure 1500 words is well over the daily blog reading limit:) Oh how I love the word of God…)


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  • http://profiles.google.com/chrishollysmith89 Holly Smith

    Oh, I love Him so, Angie, and His way with words and with LOVE.  I love how He loves.  I am more of a John…want everyone to know that I arrived at the tomb first and yet He still loves me. And laughs with me.

  • http://www.dominicandkristin.blogspot.com kasmith03

    Beautiful – this story of Peter and his Kyrios…was my favorite part of WOF!! Thank you for sharing your insights here, you just have such a gift and I am on the edge of my seat to hear the rest!! :) Blessings! Kristin

  • http://www.lynhallewell.wordpress.com Lyn Hallewell

    I love Peter, I think so many of us can relate to him. I certainly have his “foot in the mouth” tendencies! When I read about Peter I see someone who wants to get it right, someone who wants to honor God, but sometimes fails miserably! Hands up who relates to that? Peter gives me hope though.

    Looking forward to part 2!

  • Sandy

    John 21 is my very favorite chapter in the Bible…I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that Jesus came and met Peter where he was and offered reconciliation.  I have been Peter and never thought I could get back what I had lost in relationship with my Lord and Savior.   Sure, I was saved, but really, how could he use me again.  I am so thankful that this chapter was included in the Holy Scriptures.

  • http://thepartythatneverquits.blogspot.com Jen

    I love how much Peter talks. At least twice as much as all the disciples combined. It gives this chatterbox hope;)

    I always imagined that Peter loved Jesus too much to stay completely away. He may not have been at the foot of the cross with John, Mother Mary and Mary Magdaline, but far, far away on the outskirts, but still where he could see. And I strongly believe his heart shattered all over again when Jesus died.

    • http://www.audreycaroline.blogspot.com angelac519

      I just love you jen:)

      • http://thepartythatneverquits.blogspot.com Jen

        :) Ditto.

        Can’t you just see it though? Him sitting in a room looking out the window, or on the edge of the crowd with his outer robe over his head, tears silently streaming? Wishing he could be there with his friend, his Lord, but feeling the shame heavier than the longing?

        I know I’m probably just making it all up to redeem Peter a little. But I know that while I’ve had moments I feel i couldn’t be right there at the foot, I was standing way back, in the shadows, a cover over my head so no one could see it was me there, watching everyone else. That heartbreak (and pride) is debilitating. You know He wants you there… You just can’t, or won’t, go.

  • Susan

    What a cliff hanger Angie…To be continued??? You have me on the edge of my seat :)    I’m heading to submerge myself in the Word right now!  Praise God for these wonderful stories

  • Erin

    Oh Angie.  I love reading your words.  I have missed these blogs…these meaty posts that really make me think.  I have never thought of Peter the way you describe him here.  I am more of a Paul-kind-of-girl so this is a great contrast to what I am usually drawn to.

    I can’t WAIT to read the rest of the story!

    PS…1500 words??? Who’s counting :-)

  • Diane1230

    Great post!  Thanks for your words and thoughts. :-)

  • http://walkinthenameoflove.blogspot.com/ Ally

    Matthew 14 is one of my favorite stories too! Please write a book on Peter! I’d love it!  I’m reading What Women Fear for the 2nd time now!

  • http://itwasbroughtonbylove.blogspot.com Southern Gal

    Digging deep for those nuggets.  Thanks for sharing yours.

  • Kristie

    Looking forward to part 2.  You have such a way with words Angie!  Thanks for sharing you thoughts with us!  Sometimes we don’t see things the way someone else would and I love that God does that!  Would love to read a book on Peter!!!

  • Nirupama Kumar

    It is interesting who we find to connect with.  I sent your post to my husband, he’s been thinking of doing a movie on Peter for forever.  I never really got it, but you really make him come alive.

  • Josephcantone

    This was one great blog. Thanks for all the time and effort. It was well worth it if I
    dont say so myself.

  • Priscilla

    Angie, I don’t know if you read your comments but just know that what you wrote really helped me. Right now I’m going through some tough things and I feel so far from God. I always check your posts and though they have been only about stuff that you recommend, I was so happy to see that you wrote like back in the days. Thank you.

    • Angie

      thank you for your words, priscilla. and for allowing me to pray for you…im asking the Lord to give you peace tonight.

      with love,
      ang

  • Coby

    Peter has always been one of my favorites.  He blows it so many times, but he keeps coming back to who he knows Christ is.  Peter gives me hope – as many failures as he has, he also has so many times where he gets it right!  Great post!

  • Lisa

    I LOVE this post! 

  • Candice

    Thanks for your post! It was refreshing to read through your thoughts. I love the way you paint such vivid pictures of scripture! Your writing is full of such depth and encouragement. I have missed posts like these on your blog….I know you have been busy with traveling and speaking, but I feel like I just had coffee with an old friend today. I have missed you! :) Thanks for taking the time to share your heartfelt meditation on the Word. You are appreciated!

  • Alyson

    I love to read your posts Angie. This post in particular had me right there along with Peter. I love when a book, or in this instance, a blog post can suck me right in! I look forward to reading the 2nd chapter.

  • Sheilannpat

    Matthew 14:27But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.”
    One of my all-time favorite verses.  Thanks for the post and reminder as we go into the Thanksgiving holiday that He is near.  In God’s love, sheila

  • Courtney B.

    Eeep!  Can I just say that I am so excited at a possibility of a whole book devoted to Peter and what we can learn from him!?   I have related to Peter so much this year and I find new things that encourage me in my walk every time I read about him.  

  • Katelynd23

    beautiful.

  • Lizreeves2

    Reading about the foot washing above, I was reminded of a way God blessed me this summer.  I posted about it here:  http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2011/07/getting-my-feet-washed.html

  • http://www.debrairene.com/ Debra Irene

    A little sermon here … well on it’s way to your next book!

  • Bibipierson

    Can hardly wait for part 2!

  • Blsed6pk

    tears…thank you

  • William

    Great Job U are Doing.

    God Bless you