The Bible says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” -Hebrews 11:1 That means trusting & believing without doubting what God says about Himself and about what He will do.
Peter’s life changed when he met Jesus. Peter had been a follower of John the Baptist. When John recognized that Jesus was the promised Savior, he preached that to everyone, including Peter. Peter believed and became a follower, or disciple, of Jesus. Peter’s job had been to be a fisherman. Jesus told him “Follow me, and I will make you a fisher of men!” and Peter believed and followed.
Are you a follower of Jesus?
When Peter first became a follower of Jesus, his faith was not always as strong as it should have been. Later in his life, his faith became very strong. This is because God was helping Peter grow. A verse in 2nd Peter – yes! That is a book of the Bible God told Peter to write – says “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” As we learn more and more about Jesus by reading our Bible and praying, we grow in faith just like Peter did.
For 3 years Peter followed Jesus on Earth. He saw Jesus do many miracles. He knew that Jesus was God because only God can do miracles like Jesus did. Jesus healed people from their sicknesses. He calmed the raging sea and storm. He taught people about God the Father and His love for us.
One day, more than 5000 people came to hear Jesus tell about God. The people stayed all day and got very hungry. Jesus took a little boy’s lunch of 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish, and fed all those people with it! Peter and the other disciples saw all these miracles and were amazed!
After this, Jesus went up to a mountain to pray to His Father in Heaven. He sent the disciples ahead of Him to the other side of the Sea of Gallilee. That night, a storm came up on the Sea, and the waves were very strong. Jesus knew this was happening because He is God and He knows everything. He also knew that the disciples were struggling against the wind, and He knew they were afraid.
So, He went to them!
But, He didn’t have a boat. So how did He get to them?
Jesus is so powerful that He could walk on the water across the stormy sea, right to the disciples. The disciples knew how powerful Jesus was, but instead of being full of faith and trust – they thought He was a ghost! Now they were even MORE afraid! Jesus lovingly said “Be of good cheer, it is I; Be not afraid.” Peter said, “If it is you, let me come out and walk on the water too.” Jesus said “Come.” So, Peter did! And he walked! He showed faith in Jesus! For a while.
Then Peter looked around himself and saw the waves and the wind crashing all around him. He forgot that Jesus was helping him. Peter started to sink. “Lord save me!” he cried! Jesus did. He reached out His hand, and grabbed Peter, and they both got into the boat. Peter had showed great faith, but his faith was “wobbly.” He still needed to grow.
When Jesus was betrayed and about to be crucified, Peter again showed his still “wobbly” faith. Jesus was taken by soldiers to the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court. Peter was following at a distance. He was very afraid, but he still wanted to follow Jesus wherever He went. While Peter was sitting in the courtyard, warming himself by the fire, people started to recognize him as one of the disciples of Jesus. Three times people asked him if he was a follower of Jesus. Three times Peter denied that he was. He even cursed and swore that he wasn’t one of the followers. Right then a rooster crowed.
Oh no! Peter realized what he had done! Jesus had prophesied it! Before the rooster crows, Jesus had said, you will deny me 3 times. Peter cried miserably. He knew he had not shown faith. How could Jesus ever forgive him?!
Boys and girls, that is exactly what Jesus came to do for Peter and for us! That is why Jesus had to shed His blood on the cross! To make a way for our sins to be forgiven so that we can live with Jesus in Heaven forever.
Jesus knew that Peter’s faith was still wobbly. He also knew that Peter would grow. Peter had trusted Jesus as his Savior, Jesus knew that. That is the first step of faith. That’s what makes you a Christian. Peter had done that. Have you?
Boys and girls, Peter’s story was far from over! How sad if we only saw Peter’s wobbly faith! Peter watched Jesus die on the cross for his sins, and for ours. Peter’s heart was broken. Was this the end?
NO! Three days later, Peter witnessed God’s greatest miracle! Jesus’s resurrection. Jesus made Himself come alive again. He had won the victory over satan and sin and death. What would He say to Peter?
Jesus told Peter He loved him, just like He loves you and me. Even though we are sinners, even though we have wobbly faith, Jesus still loves us. When we mess up, He just wants us to confess it, ask for God’s help, and try again. Jesus asked Peter 3 times if Peter loved Him. Peter was very sad and sorry about what he had done by denying Jesus. Peter knew that he really did love Jesus. Jesus knew too. He was just testing Peter. Jesus had a special job for Peter. Three times Jesus asked the question, and 3 times Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Each time Jesus would then tell Peter, “Feed my sheep.” Jesus didn’t mean the animals that go “baa.” He meant the early church! The ones who would want to learn about Jesus in the years to come! And, us too, who would want to read the books in the Bible that Peter wrote.
Oh what a job God had given Peter! Peter happily obeyed. Jesus went back to Heaven to be with God the Father, but He didn’t leave Peter, or us, alone! He’s with all His children because God the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us and help us to grow in our faith. This is what happened to Peter. The Holy Spirit came in to him and helped his faith to stop being so wobbly! Peter let the Holy Spirit control him and guide him. Peter preached and led thousands to the Lord! He became one of the leaders of the early church. God also used him to write 2 books of the New Testament named 1st and 2nd Peter, the books that teach us to “grow in Grace.” Peter now had a strong faith. It wasn’t wobbly anymore! Peter knew that changing wobbly faith to solid strong faith comes by growing in Jesus.
I want to grow more and more in grace every day! Don’t you?! Are you growing in grace? We are going to pray about that together shortly. But, let me first ask you: Have you taken the first step of putting your faith in Jesus for salvation? You can do that today.
Bible texts for story: Matt. 14:22-33; Matt. 26:57-75; John 21:15-17; Acts 2 ff.
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