He was the Son of Jonas (John) and a native of Bethsaida around the Sea of Galilee. He was married but we were not told about the name of his wife, or that of his children. Through the Scriptures, we’re able to understand that at a time, his mother-in-law was sick and they had to employ the presence of Jesus so that she could be healed from her sickness. We also know from the good Book that he had a brother called Andrew, because it was this Andrew who brought his mother-in-law to Jesus; it was this same Andrew who was also a disciple to John the Baptist. He was a protégé of his father as he carried on the fishing business at a place called Capernaum, which subsequently was his place of abode. In other words, he was also known as a fisherman.
We read about him and the first encounter he had with Jesus; little did he know that his name would be changed from what it was, to another name that means a Stone. Jesus told him he would make him a fisher of men but he didn’t follow Jesus until much later. At a time when he had toiled all night with his brother Andrew and others, and they were frustrated, Jesus told him to cast his net back into the sea during the day (knowing that fishes were best caught when it’s dark), he reluctantly threw back his net into the sea and great was the number of fish they caught. When they got to the bank of the sea, the good Book said, they abandoned all and decided to follow Jesus.
He was plagued by many incidents as he decided to follow Jesus: his first encounter was when they finally came to terms that they were not seeing a ghost but that it was Jesus, so he asked Jesus if he could walk on water to meet with him. Jesus asked him to come and he began to walk in the realm of the miraculous but after sometime, because of how human he was, he began to sink when the information, which flooded in his mind, was different from what was given by Jesus. Before he completely sank in that water, he was able to call on Jesus and was rescued from drowning. Jesus told him why he was unable to maintain what he started; he doubted.
Secondly, he was able to make a very bold and clear assertion of the divine person and office of Jesus; Jesus had asked about what the people’s thoughts were about Him. He declared, “thou at Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus also confirmed to him that only God could have revealed such knowledge to him and further told him that upon the rock of knowledge will the Church be built and the gates of hell would not be able to come against that spiritual edifice.
Just when he had gotten some accolades from the Lord, he was been rebuked when Christ was inundating them about His purposed coming and how He was going to shed His blood. He jumped right in before Jesus concluded on His statement because what was being said was unpalatable to carnal prejudices. We see him passing from one extreme to the opposite. One minute he was in the spirit and the next he was back in the flesh even when Jesus offered to wash his feet, he refused but later accepted when Jesus explained the reason for the feet washing.
Jesus also took him to the mount of transfiguration with two other disciples. Moses and Elijah appeared and immediately, instead of asking questions, he suggested three booths be made for the three servants of God. He had forgotten that Jesus was not yet dead; Moses and Elijah were already gone. So what he said didn’t make sense because Jesus was only showing them the dispensation they were in. The Law and the Prophets are gone as Elijah and Moses disappeared and Jesus was by Himself. Jesus was all the Old Testament was pointing back at; all the stories, sacrifices and lots more spoke in advance about Him, no wonder He said John the Baptist was greater than all that God had sent, but even the least in His Kingdom was greater than John the Baptist.
He felt very sorrowful when he learnt that the Devil had asked permission to sift him as wheat; he was going to deny Jesus three times which he did and at the end of the episode he went away sorrowful and in deep repentance – Jesus had appeared to him again and told him in very express words to feed and take proper care of the sheep that was left with him. Again it appeared that Jesus was handing over the affairs of the kingdom that was going to be formed as He (Jesus) ascended to Heaven and sat at the right hand of God forever more.
These and many more incidents and occurrences can only illustrate the character of this man as zealous, pious and ardently attached to his master and savior; at the same time we see him as impulsive when the spotlight is shown on his feelings rather than being calm and continuously steadfast. He was very swift in his actions (remember he cut the ear of one of the soldiers that came to arrest Jesus), ready to avow his convictions with boldness; he was also rash in his judgments, quick and too confident in the assertion of his own convictions.
We see a courageous man who on the Day of Pentecost, stood up with all boldness to address all and sundry after Jesus ascended; it was a different person making assertions about how Jesus was Lord and Christ. He took the lead in the Church as he exercised the powers of “the keys of the Kingdom” by opening the door of the Church. We also see a man whose moral courage was affected and easily overcome by the permutations and opinions of men probably because of the Jewish prejudice and penalty that will follow (he identified with the Gentiles secretly and never openly), as he took the Gospel to the Jews only. He was rebuked openly by Apostle Paul as he (Paul) took the Gospel to the Gentiles. He was later imprisoned for preaching the Gospel and was tried before the Sanhedrin as he boldly avowed to continue even until he was killed.
He went to Rome to refute Simon Magus and for almost a quarter of a century, he held the Episcopal chair until the last years of Nero the fourteenth who crucified him with his head downwards declaring himself unworthy to be crucified as his Lord and was later buried in the Vatican near the triumphal way.
He wrote two letters to the Jewish Christians who were under persecution advising that the Epistles of Paul are to be followed strictly because they were already passed as the scriptures for the Church already in circulation. It was Paul who expressly advised us to renew our minds if we must think the thoughts and walk the ways of God.
This is in no way trying to rebuff this gentleman but to identify with the fact that, after all is said and done, he was human just like we are because sometimes we vacillate between the flesh and the spirit; between the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of God; between the thoughts of God and the fallible thoughts of man knowing that His thoughts are so far and are in contradistinction from the thoughts of man.
Bishop Noel Jones said for us to remember that the children of Israel left Egypt but at the same time carried Egypt with them even into the Promised Land. He further said that we would remain conformed to the dictates of this world if we do not renew our minds – so that we can see and view issues from the perspective of God in transformation.
His name is Peter, Simeon Peter.