The Master’s Men – Peter

Our friend Peter was always getting himself into trouble by saying or doing something he was soon to regret. John MacArthur coins him as “the apostle with the foot-shaped mouth,” and after reading the gospels, one might agree, it’s hard to argue with him.

Peter was a rugged fisherman with an aggressive, bold, and overeager personality. Peter was introduced to the Lord by his brother Andrew and immediately was recognized as the leader of the Twelve.  In the discussion on Simon Peter, MacArthur highlights several key character qualities that define a true leader. I believe these are essentials in the Christian leader today.

Submission – A true leader doesn’t just demand submission; he is an example of submission by the way he submits to the Lord and to those in authority over him. Everything the true spiritual leader does, ought to be marked by submission to every legitimate authority – especially submission to God and to His Word. Leaders tend to be confident and aggressive. They naturally dominate. Peter had that tendency in him. He always wanted to take control of the situation. Jesus taught him submission.

Restraint – Simon Peter had to learn to restrain himself in those moments when the domineering side of him kicked in. The Lord essentially had to put a bit in Peter’s mouth to teach him restraint. For this reason Peter bore the brunt of so many rebukes when he spoke too soon or acted too hastily. We all remember the scene in the garden when Peter, knowingly surrounded by hundreds of Roman soldiers, pulled out his sword and began hacking away at Malchus’ ear. Luckily for Peter, Jesus immediately healed the damage and sternly rebuked Peter saying, “those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” Peter must have learned his lesson because later in life he wrote in 1 Peter of the restraint demonstrated in Jesus, “They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became our healing.” (1 Peter 2:21-23)

Humility – Like Simon Peter, leaders are often tempted by the sin of pride. Early in Peter’s walk with the Lord it’s easy to observe he had a lot of self-confidence. It’s obvious in the way he jumps in with answers to all the questions. Or how bout being the first to jump in the water to walk to Jesus…don’t tell me there’s not a hint a pride and confidence in that. But the Lord used all Peter’s mistakes and shortcomings to teach him humility. Humility became one of the virtues that characterized Peter’s life, his message, and his leadership style. (read about it in his first and second epistle)

Love   Simon Peter also learned Love. All the disciples struggled with learning that true spiritual leadership means loving service to one another. The real leader is someone who serves, not someone who demands to be waited upon. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Jesus himself consistently modeled that kind of loving-servant leadership for the disciples. The Love Peter learned and later spoke of in his epistle wasn’t the “feeling” of love the world always talks about, but the kind of love that covers and compensates for others’ failures and weaknesses. This is the sort of love that washes a brother’s dirty feet. Peter himself had learned that lesson from Christ’s example.

Courage –   Finally Simon Peter learned courage. Not the impetuous, headlong, false kind of “courage” that caused him to swing his sword so wildly at Malchus, but a mature, settled, heroic willingness to suffer for Christ’s sake. The price of preaching would be death for Peter. Persecution. Oppression. Trouble. Torture. Ultimately, martyrdom. Peter would need rock-solid courage to persevere.  You can practically see the birth of real courage in Peter’s heart at Pentecost, when he was filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Tradition says that before Peter was crucified he was forced to watch the crucifixion of his own wife. As he watched her being led to her death, Peter called to her by name, saying, “Remember the Lord.” When is was Peter’s turn to die, he pleaded to be crucified upside down because he wasn’t worthy to die the same death as his Lord. Simon Peter definitely lived up to the name the Lord had given him- the courageous ROCK!!

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