9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. (Luke 5:9–11, NKJV)
The carpenter told the fishermen where to cast their nets to catch fish. Like Peter, when the Master speaks, those who trust the Lord will follow His word. The miraculous catch of fish they hauled to shore prompted Peter to confess his sins to the Lord (Lk. 5:4-8). The fishermen were astonished and afraid, but Jesus eased their fears by assuring them of even greater catches to come. Peter, James, and John soon would be catching souls. The gospel these future apostles preached continues to capture lost souls by convicting sinners and converting them to Christ (Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:46-48). These men set us a worthy example of immediate conviction, uncompromising priority, and sacrifice of faith in order to serve Jesus. When Jesus speaks, we must forsake all and follow Him (Lk. 14:33; 9:23).
13 And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, 14 who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’ (Acts 11:13–14, NKJV)
Many well-meaning people have been deceived to believe their salvation depends on a supernatural experience – perhaps it’s speaking in tongues, perhaps it’s a vision, perhaps it’s a warm burning inside they interpret as the Holy Spirit confirming the truth of their conversion – none of which are taught in the New Testament as the means or the basis of one’s salvation. Peter’s rehearsal of the events at the house of Cornelius helps us understand the way God saves the lost. Cornelius was a moral, religious, charitable man of good reputation, yet lost (Acts 10:10:1-2, 22; 11:14). An angel visited him, instructing him to send for Peter to hear words from him, which he did (Acts 10:3-6, 22, 32-33). While doing so, the Holy Spirit miraculously confirmed that Gentiles can be saved just like Jews (Acts 10:34-43, 44-47; 11:15-17). With that, Peter “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48). This convinced the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem that “God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” (Acts 11:18; 15:7-11). It ought to convince us, too. God’s way to salvation is hearing and believing the gospel, confessing faith, repenting of sins, and being baptized to be saved (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38, 41).
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13, NKJV)
Peter and John were not educated at the feet of the experts of the law. They were “uneducated and untrained” fishermen from Galilee. Their speech was enough to betray that fact (Matthew 26:73). Yet, their boldness to speak truth to power caused the rulers of Israel to marvel (Acts 4:5-12). Then they realized that Peter and John had been with Jesus. Just as Jesus had promised them, their words were given to them by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:17-20; Acts 1:8). Now we have that very same inspired word that they preached. The Holy Scriptures have been breathed out by God as a record of His truth that teaches, reproves, corrects and instructs us in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Above all else, we must be educated and trained in the Scriptures – not by the lettered men of the day. We must know that very word the apostles preached, so that our faith will not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). Learn the Scriptures. Live the Scriptures. If you will, then you will be with Jesus, too (John 8:31-32; 14:21-24).
13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” 15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again. (Acts 10:13–16, NKJV)
Wouldn’t it be grand if parents could tell their child to do some chore only once, and the child would forever do the parents’ will? Of course, that rarely happens. Repetition is important to the learning process. We should not expect it to be different with teaching and learning the will of our Heavenly Father. God sent Peter a vision telling him to do the same thing three times, thereby emphasizing God’s determination in the matter, as well as His expectation that Peter accept the lesson and obey Him (which he did, Acts 10:28-29). God’s word patiently teaches, but we must be willing to learn. Let us learn quickly and obey fully. God’s patient teaching of His word is not our license to disobey Him or otherwise neglect His commands. Repetitious teaching also helps breakdown objections in the good and honest heart (as it did with Peter here). Repetitious teaching also gives us protection from falling back into sin (Philippians 3:1). Furthermore, repetitious teaching helps us remember what we have previously learned (2 Peter 1:12-15). Let us not get bored with hearing God’s word repeated time and again. Such instruction is for our learning, our exhortation, and our spiritual safety.
2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matthew 11:2–6, NKJV)
The works and words of Jesus were sufficient proof to assure John that Jesus was “the Coming One.” From Moses, to Isaiah, to Jeremiah, to Malachi, God’s prophets foretold of One coming to rule in righteousness and in judgment (Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 11:1-4; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Malachi 3:1-3; 4:5-6). The same evidence that assured John still exists on the pages of divinely inspired Scripture, ready for eyes that will see and ears that will hear. Just like John, we too are expected to use this evidence to draw the only possible conclusion (the necessary inference), that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. This body of evidence is how the Father revealed this truth to Peter and the whole world (Matthew 16:15-17; John 20:30-31). We dare not stumble (be offended) over who Jesus is. The evidence is sound and abundant. Jesus is the Messiah who was promised. Yes, He is the Coming One who came to save the world.
57 And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58 But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end. (Matthew 26:57–58, NKJV)
Peter followed Jesus at a distance, to see how things would end. Earlier that night, Peter had pledged unflinching allegiance, “even if I have to die with You,” I will not deny You!” (Matthew 26:35). But now, warming himself at the fire of the enemy, his reactions were quite different. Three times he denied knowing Jesus, even cursing and swearing his refutation (Matthew 26:69-75). You cannot successfully follow Jesus at a distance. That is the place of the spectator, who easily criticizes, but rarely participates. The light grows dim as we move away from the source, Jesus Christ (John 8:12). Attending an occasional worship service, offering an infrequent prayer, and giving lip service to following Jesus will tempt you to deny the Lord, just like Peter. Instead of distancing yourself from the Lord, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. (Luke 22:54, NKJV)
Earlier that evening, Peter had publicly stated he was ready to go to prison, and die, for Jesus (Lk. 22:33). He had even unsheathed his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant when Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane (Jno. 18:10). Now, Jesus is led bound to a series of trials, leading to crucifixion, Peter followed to see the end (Matt. 26:58). When tested, three times he denied knowing Jesus. Like Peter, we are not immune to thinking more highly of our faith and conviction than we should. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12; cf. Galatians 6:3). Instead of following Jesus “at a distance,” let us follow Him closely, determining to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).