“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” – Acts 4:13
When the men of the Sanhedrin looked at the disciples Peter and John, they saw courage. So much courage they were astonished and took note that these men had spent time with Jesus. Though Peter and John were ordinary fishermen, Jesus also saw dynamic qualities in them which set them apart from the crowds. It was no accident these men were the ones Jesus “Chose … to go and bear much fruit” (John 15:16) and to be with Him. They were:
They were not casual observers, aloof spectators, or complaining compromisers. Jesus chose men who hungered and thirsted after righteousness (Matthew 5:6). These were passionate men, eager to make Jesus’ dream of seeing all men be saved, their dream as well. In fact, in John 4:34, while addressing the plentiful harvest field of souls and the need for workers…Jesus stated, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” Hunger is undeniable and insatiable for the body. It must have this food to grow and to function. The body of Christ is no different. Saving souls is the food of every sold out disciple that is part of the body. Disciples should strive to never lose their hunger to reach out to and save lost souls. It has been so inspiring to see God work in the Denver Church as we have watched God add 14 to our number in 15 weeks! To God be all the glory!
As fisherman, Peter and John were acquainted with intense labor. There was no place for laziness or complacency in the men who walked with Jesus. They knew they were commended by God and by men in “great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5). They were willing to pay the price, knowing they would receive the reward of the “hard-working farmer” (2 Timothy 2:6). Saving souls has never been described as easy or comfortable. In fact it requires many of the attributes of a good fisherman, like patience (long suffering), persistence (tenacity), resilience (the ability to rebound and try again), the unceasing ability to persevere even when the results are not what you had hoped, and of coarse hard work. Often the hardest work is not the daily grind, but it is the ability to work hard and persevere emotionally. To never lose heart, to never lose hope, and to never let go of our unmovable belief that God will always be with us as we continue to do his work and love his people.
Though Peter is often seen as unreliable, he proved to be the most reliable and faithful of the twelve. It was he who realized that Jesus was the only way (John 6:68); who made the good confession (Matthew 16:16); and who was willing to leave all for Christ (Mark 10:28). As Paul told Timothy to entrust the gospel to “reliable men” (2 Timothy 2:2), Jesus would be satisfied with nothing less. In fact, in Matthew 16:19 Jesus entrusted Peter with the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven with which Peter preached the first “good news” sermon ever on how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven through the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. There was no place for irresponsibility and inconsistency in the men Jesus was discipling. He had to have men he could trust. Reliability is crucial and inconsistency is deadly. We are responsible for souls…the single most important entity on Earth. We must be men and women of our word. We promised to do our very best in loving God and in loving people when we made Jesus our Lord in the waters of baptism. We must keep both at the forefront of our minds. We must be reliable in our efforts to reach out and save souls and in our willingness to continue loving even when it is hard.
When Jesus called Peter he said, “I will make you [a fisher] of men” (Mark 1:17-18). Peter immediately dropped his nets and followed. He put aside his pride and independence and took on the role of a learner. Jesus couldn’t disciple and train a man who was filled with an independent spirit and pride. He sought out men who were ready to grow and to change. “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23). God takes arrogance as seriously as idolatry, a sin for which he rejected and enslaved his people over and over again. Arrogance is convinced it is right and finds being right more important than being righteous. Arrogance needs no help, no guidance and no input. Arrogance needs no God. We must always strive to have the heart of Peter who was humble and teachable and sought the guidance of the Lord. He was dependent, not independent, he was teachable, not arrogant, and he was ready to change. As disciples we must embrace and never lose this heart. We must allow the Word of God and Godly men to mold and shape our hearts.
Recently, I was amazed by a woman named Rowina Faye. My wife Julie was contacted by her granddaughter, Morgan Valdez, who had studied the bible with her while being her caretaker for a little more than a week. On Thursday, Julie studied the bible with Rowina and what she found amazed her. Rowina is a 74-year-old woman whose body is failing…but her mind and heart certainly are not. Her humility stunned my wife. She had been religious all of her life, but when Julie and Morgan showed her the scriptures she completely humbled herself to them. She threw out her opinion, did not cling to her own emotion, and laid down all that she had been taught for nearly a century. She trusted that God’s words were more reliable than any preacher or teacher who clearly did not teach her the whole truth. She was baptized that day and her example of humility will ever stir in my heart. She proved that you are never too old to learn, and so be saved!
When speaking to the twelve, Jesus said, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). The question for you today is clear: How will you respond to the call of God today? Will you choose to be a hungry, hardworking, reliable and humble disciple willing to give up anything and everything for the purpose God has for your life? Indeed, we must be discipled by Christ for we are commanded to follow in his footsteps (1 Peter 2:21). Will you decide today in your life to strive to “walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6)? While his discipling comes today through his Word and through men, the kind of men and women Jesus is looking for remains unchanged. He is looking for disciples who are hungry for righteousness and his dream, who are hardworking with a Godly work-ethic, who have a reliable heart and who keep for all of their days a child-like learners spirit. It is only when we allow ourselves to be discipled by Christ that we truly become the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) that we were meant to be.