“And when Jesus beheld him, He said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone” (John 1:42).
For the earliest notice of Simon Peter, we must turn to the first chapter of the Gospel of John. “John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus…. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ” (John 1:35-37,40,41).
His Introduction to Christ
It does the heart good to note the simple, earnest, forcible words of Simon Peter’s brother, Andrew. He lost no time. Saved and blessed himself, he desired immediately to lead his brother into the same blessing.
It is the best thing in the world to be able to say, “I have found Christ.” Reader, can you say it? Have you followed that blessed One? If so, you will long to find someone else you can bring to Jesus. Begin where you are. Start with your brother or your sister, your roommate, your fellow-student, your co-worker—tell them, “I have found Jesus,” and explain what He has done for you. Remember this is the way that the great Apostle Peter was first called.
His Conviction of Sin
“And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And He entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship” (Luke 5:1-3). Witness the grace that shines here. Though Lord of all creation—Possessor of Heaven and earth—He nevertheless, as the lowly, gracious Man, courteously asks a favor: that Peter would sail out a little from the shore.
“Now when He had left speaking, He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink” (Luke 5:4-7).
Neither their nets nor their ships were able to sustain the fruit of divine power and goodness. “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8).
Here, then, we have the great practical effect produced in Peter’s soul by the combined action of grace and power. He is brought to see himself in the light of the divine presence, where alone self can be truly seen and judged. Simon had heard the word of Jesus addressed to the multitude on the shore. He had felt the sweet grace and moral beauty of Jesus’ dealings with him. He had seen the display of divine power in the astonishing catch of fish. All this pressed powerfully upon his heart and conscience, and brought him on his face before the Lord.
Now this is what we may call a genuine work of conviction. It is a very serious thing indeed to be brought to see ourselves in the light of God’s presence, to have our eyes opened to the truth of our past history, our present condition, and our future destiny. Simon Peter found it so in his day, and so have all those who have been brought to a saving knowledge of Christ.
Peter felt and owned that he was a man full of sin. He felt he had no right to be near Jesus, but Jesus could never depart from a poor broken-hearted sinner. It is His richest, deepest, joy to pour the healing balm of His love and grace into a wounded soul. It is His delight to heal the broken heart.
“And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men” (Luke 5:10). Here was the divine response to the cry of a contrite heart. The wound was deep, but the grace was deeper still. The soothing hand of a Savior-God applied the precious remedy. Simon was not only convicted, but converted. He saw himself to be a man full of sin, but he saw the Savior full of grace. There is grace in the heart of Jesus, as there is power in His blood, to meet the very worst of sinners.
What About You?
Have you met Jesus? Have you owned your sinfulness to Him and received the gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ? Peter said of Him, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Peter also says, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19) and “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
—Condensed from Simon Peter: His Life and Its Lessons by C.H. Mackintosh.