Twelve Ordinary Men, Week 4


Fisher of Men

Why is the term “Fishers of Men” used by Jesus?
What does it take to be a “fisherman”? Study the fish, know what water temp is needed, where cover is, how to present the bait… We know every detail in an effort to be successful in our catch. Now, how does that translate into winning souls? We must study the lost in our community, know what will catch their attention, know how we can present the Gospel so we, too, can be successful in our ministry.
What do we know about Peter?
Matthew 4:18–20 ESV
18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Simon Peter was a fisherman by trade, along with his brother Andrew. In being called as a disciple, Peter left his family, left his profession, and left all that was familiar for the ministry.
While fishing was probably a common laborer job, it was a family business. Originally, they were from Bethsaida, but had moved to Capernaum.
John 1:44 ESV
44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
Mark 1:29 ESV
29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
Capernaum was a larger town, trade city, and was a base of Jesus ministry for extended periods of time. BUT, Jesus would condemn Capernaum and Bethsaida for their unwillingness to accept Jesus.
Matthew 11:24 ESV
24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
Peter was married, as can be interpreted through Luke 4:38 where Jesus healed his mother in law.
Luke 4:38 ESV
38 And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf.
We also know Peter was the leader of the apostles, and we normally see him taking the lead, being the spokesman, and putting himself up front in all done by the apostles.
Matthew 10:2 ESV
2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
First - prōtos - prominent, of high rank, foremost, best, superior to all compared to, most important.
MacArthur makes this comment “Peter’s name is mentioned in the Gospels more than any other name except Jesus. No one speaks as often as Peter, and no one is spoken to by the Lord as often as Peter. No disciple is so frequently rebuked by the Lord as Peter; and no disciple ever rebukes the Lord except Peter (Matthew 16:22). No one else confessed Christ more boldly or acknowledged His lordship more explicitly; yet no other disciple ever verbally denied Christ as forcefully or as publicly as Peter did. No one is praised and blessed by Christ the way Peter was; yet Peter was also the only one Christ ever addressed as Satan. The Lord had harsher things to say to Peter than He ever said to any of the others.”
Peter mas being groomed to be a leader by Jesus, and all the mentioned things was what made him the leader God wanted him to be.

Leaders - Born or Made?

What is required to be a great leader?
So, are leaders born or made? I would suggest both. I think strong leaders are born with innate strengths, but must also be groomed and shaped into an effective leader.
So, what makes an effective leader?
Curiosity - asking a lot of questions. Being content in what you do or do not know leads to ignorance. Not knowing what they don’t know. In a worse case, not caring what they don’t know is even worse. It leads to complacency and being comfortable is being clueless. Not being willing or able to question and learn limits how well a leader can perform.
Can this curiosity be squelched? Can we be told “no” or ignored to the point we can squelch curiosity? I think it might be inhibited, but curiosity will never leave. Early in childhood, we know there are some children whose first words are “why”? They ask questions. They are curious. They want to know. These characteristics are what drives leaders, and those who are good leaders are always asking the “why” questions.
In scripture, Peter is recorded as asking more questions than all other apostles combined.
Matthew 15:15 ESV
15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.”
Matthew 18:21 ESV
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
Matthew 19:27 ESV
27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”
Mark 11:21 ESV
21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
John 21:20–22 ESV
20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
Peter always wanted to learn more. Constantly asking questions. He had the curiosity of a true leader.
Initiative - A leader must have drive, ambition, and energy - someone willing to make things happen! Peter was often the first to ask questions, but also the first to jump into action.
Matthew 16:13–16 ESV
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Peter knew, in his heart and soul, who Jesus was.
Matthew 16:17 ESV
17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
Are we not called to have that same faith? To know with all our heart and soul WHO Jesus is? However, at times Peter was too anxious and would jump without fully thinking out the problem and would be the first to run. Sometimes he had to take a step back, undo, retract, or be rebuked. Remember the account of Gethsemane? Peter was the one who pulled a sword and took a swing at the servant of the high priest, Malchus, cutting off his ear. No doubt, he was aiming for his head… What did Peter think he was going to do? Behead them all, one by one? Sometimes in Peter’s passion for taking the initiative, he overlooked the obvious big-picture realities.
But the fact that he was always willing to grab opportunity by the throat marked him as a natural leader. It’s much easier to tone down passion than try to resurrect a corpse. Too often, as we grow older and more comfortable in our salvation, we lose the passion. Heaven help the corpses - the frozen chosen. But, it doesn’t matter if you have curiosity, it doesn’t matter how passionate with initiative you are, if you’re not involved…you can’t lead.
Involvement - No one can lead from the back. Let me repeat that…no one leads from the back. Leaders lead from the front and everyone else follows. When all the other disciples were cowering in the ship, who was the one who popped up and wanted to walk on water? Even though he sank…he had to get out of the boat first…while the others were just trying to keep from getting wet. Similarly, although Peter denied Christ, keep in mind one significant fact: He and one other disciple (probably his lifelong friend, John) were the only ones who followed Jesus to the high priest’s house to see what would become of Jesus.
John 18:15 ESV
15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest,
And in the courtyard of the high priest’s house, Peter was the only one close enough for Jesus to turn and look him in the eyes when the rooster crowed.
Luke 22:61 ESV
61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”
Long after the other disciples had forsaken Christ and fled in fear for their lives, Peter was virtually alone in a position where such a temptation could snare him, because despite his fear and weakness, he couldn’t abandon Christ completely. That’s the sign of a true leader. When almost everyone else bailed out, he tried to stay as close to his Lord as he could get. He had a passion to be personally involved, so he is always found close to the heart of the action.

Life Shapes True Leaders

How does God take people like us, and turn us into what He desires?
Through life experiences. Peter had life experiences that formed him into who Christ wanted him to be. So, leaders are born with inherent leadership skills…but they can also be refined into exceptional leaders. Experience can sometimes be a hard teacher. Many of Peters experiences were painful. Three years of tutoring, testing, and difficulties prepared him. They shaped him.
MacArthur states “Recently I read the results of a study involving all the young people in America who have been involved in the epidemic of school shooting rampages. It turns out that the common denominator among the shooters is that virtually all of them are young people who were prescribed Ritalin or other antidepressant drugs to control behavior problems. Instead of being disciplined for wrong attitudes and bad behavior, they were drugged into a stupor. Instead of training them to behave and teaching them self-control, child psychologists prescribed mind-numbing drugs that only temporarily curbed their rebellious behavior. The defiant, rebellious attitudes that were the root of the problem were never confronted or dealt with. Those kids had been artificially sheltered from the consequences of their rebellion in their younger childhood. They missed the life experiences that might have shaped their character differently.”
So, young children must be shaped, molded, guided, taught, and even disciplined to become productive. If we ignore those actions…we can have issues. It is the same way with our faith. Without being shaped, molded, guided, taught, and even disciplined…will our faith EVER truly be as strong as it could be.
Romans 5:3–5 ESV
3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
What is the key word in Romans 5:3?
Sufferings - thlip’-sis - affliction, anguish, distress, tribulation, trouble, persecution, burden, oppression, pressure.
How do we view affliction?
In most cases, we do not think of persecution, tribulation, affliction, suffering as being a positive thing. However,
Charles Stanley wrote “Trials, difficulties, and adversities are often God’s way of maturing us into people who look more like His Son. No one likes trials, but by faith we can begin to understand how God may want to use them for our good.”
The apostle Peter learned a lot through hard experience. He learned, for example, that crushing defeat and deep humiliation often follow hard on the heels of our greatest victories. Just after Christ commended him for his great confession in Matthew 16:16 (“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”), Peter suffered the harshest rebuke ever recorded of a disciple in the New Testament. One moment Christ called Peter blessed, promising him the keys of the kingdom (vv. 17–19). In the next paragraph, Christ addressed Peter as Satan and said, “Get behind me!” (v. 23)—meaning, “Don’t stand in My way!” That incident occurred shortly after Peter’s triumphant confession. He did not know the plan of God. Without realizing it, he was trying to dissuade Christ from the very thing He came to earth to do. As usual, he was speaking when he ought to have been listening. But now, through the painful experience of being rebuked by the Lord, Peter also learned that he was vulnerable to Satan. Satan could fill his mouth just as surely as the Lord could fill it. If Peter minded the things of men rather than the things of God, or if he did not do the will of God, he could be an instrument of the enemy.
Ouch - sometimes we have to be humbled of self so we can see our strength in Jesus. We must be emptied of self so we can be filled with Jesus. We have to reject self so we can submit to the will of Jesus. It is through these hardships that we are molded more into the image of Christ, and our faith grows.

Character of a True Leader

What is character? defines character as referring to the sum of the characteristics possessed by a person. Character refers especially to moral qualities, ethical standards, and principles. So, there can be GOOD character and there can be BAD character.
MacArthur makes this observation “America’s current moral decline is directly linked to the fact that we have elected, appointed, and hired too many leaders who have no character. In recent years, some have tried to argue that character doesn’t really matter in leadership; what a man does in his private life supposedly should not be a factor in whether he is deemed fit for a public leadership role. That perspective is diametrically opposed to what the Bible teaches. Character does matter in leadership. It matters a lot.”
Good, positive character is what makes good, positive leaders. It is hard to respect or trust someone who lacks good character and you cannot follow someone you do not respect. Leaders without character eventually disappoint their followers and lose their confidence. The only reason such people are often popular is that they make other people who have no character feel better about themselves.
CHRIST is the ultimate example of a true leader. He embodied the purest, highest, and noblest qualities of leadership. In spiritual leadership, the great goal and objective is to bring people to Christlikeness. That is why the standard for leadership in the church is set so high.
J. R. Miller wrote, “The only thing that walks back from the tomb with the mourners and refuses to be buried is the character of a man. What a man is survives him. It can never be buried.”
What are some of the character qualities of a spiritual leader that were developed in the life of Peter? One is submission. At first glance that may seem an unusual quality to cultivate in a leader. After all, the leader is the person in charge, and he expects other people to submit to him, right? But 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 was quick to speak and quick to act. As we have seen, he was a man of initiative. That means he was always inclined to try to take control of every situation. In order to balance that side of him, the Lord taught him submission.
Submission is an indispensible character quality for leaders to cultivate. If they would teach people to submit, they must be examples of submission themselves. Peter especially was inclined to be dominant, forceful, aggressive, and resistant to the idea of submission. But Jesus taught him to submit willingly, even when he thought he had a good argument for refusing to submit.
Why must we show restraint?
A second character quality Peter learned was restraint. Most people with natural leadership abilities do not naturally excel when it comes to exercising restraint. Self-control, discipline, moderation, and reserve don’t necessarily come naturally to someone who lives life at the head of the pack. Peter had similar tendencies. Hotheadedness goes naturally with the sort of active, decisive, initiative-taking personality that made him a leader in the first place. Such a man easily grows impatient with people who lack vision or under perform. He can be quickly irritated by those who throw up obstacles to success. Therefore he must learn restraint in order to be a good leader. We can’t always going around swinging a sword looking for ears to cut off.
How do we learn humility?
Leaders are often tempted by the sin of pride. In fact, the besetting sin of leadership may be the tendency to think more of oneself than one ought to think. When people are following your lead, constantly praising you, looking up to you, and admiring you, it is too easy to be overcome with pride.
We can observe in Peter a tremendous amount of self-confidence. It is obvious by the way he jumps in with answers to all the questions. It is obvious in most of his actions, such as when he stepped out of the boat and began to walk on water. It became obvious in the worst and most disastrous way on that fateful occasion when Jesus foretold that His disciples would forsake Him.
Matthew 26:33 ESV
33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”
Of course, as usual, Peter was wrong. But the Lord used all of this to make Peter humble.
How should we 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
Mark 9:35 ESV
35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
The Lord Himself constantly modeled that kind of loving servant-leadership for the disciples. It’s hard for most leaders to stoop and wash the feet of those whom they perceive as subordinates. But that was the example of leadership Jesus gave, and He urged His disciples to follow it. In fact, He told them that showing love to one another in such a way was the mark of a true disciple.
What is compassion?
When the Lord warned Peter that he would deny Him, He said, “Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31). Wheat was typically separated from the chaff by being shaken and tossed up into the air in a stiff wind. The chaff was blown away and the wheat would fall into a pile, thus purified.
We might have expected Jesus to reassure Peter by saying, “I’m not going to allow Satan to sift you.” But He didn’t. He essentially let Peter know that He had given Satan the permission he sought. He would allow the devil to put Peter to the test (as God did in the case of Job). He said, in essence, “I’m going to let him do it. I’m going to let Satan shake the very foundations of your life. Then I’m going to let him toss you to the wind—until there’s nothing left but the reality of your faith.” Jesus did reassure Peter that the apostle’s faith would survive the ordeal. “I have prayed for you,” Jesus told him, “that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (v. 32).
It was then that Peter arrogantly insisted that he would never stumble. Yet despite his protestations, before the night was over, he did deny Jesus, and his whole world was severely shaken. His ego was deflated. His self-confidence was annihilated. His pride suffered greatly. But his faith never failed. People with natural leadership abilities often tend to be short on compassion, lousy comforters, and impatient with others. Peter needed to learn compassion through his own ordeal, so that when it was over, he could strengthen others in theirs.
How are we courageous?
The kingdom of darkness is set against the kingdom of light. Lies are set against the truth. Satan is set against God. And demons are set against the holy purposes of Christ. Therefore Peter would face difficulty wherever he went. The price of preaching would be death for Peter. Persecution. Oppression. Trouble. Torture. Ultimately, martyrdom. Peter would need rock-solid courage to persevere. Acts 4 describes how Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling counsel. They were solemnly instructed “not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (v. 18).
Peter and John boldly replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (vv. 19–20). Soon they were brought back before the Sanhedrin for continuing to preach. Again they told them the same thing: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit and driven by the knowledge that Christ had risen from the dead, had acquired an unshakable, rock-solid courage.
He became the rock, just like Jesus had called him.
Now, how do we become like Peter? How do we become rock solid in our faith? Too often, many of us get stuck and cannot overcome the persecution. We think God has forsaken us…not that He is perfecting us into Him image. As Peter learned from these lessons, his character was changed and he became the man Jesus wanted him to be. As we go through life’s lessons we can either learn and grow, or grow weak and fail. Peter didn’t live a perfect life. Neither will we. But with God we will persevere and we will overcome.
-How did Peter’s life end? We know that Jesus told Peter he would die as a martyr (John 21:18–19). But Scripture doesn’t record the death of Peter. All the records of early church history indicate that Peter was crucified. Eusebius cites the testimony of Clement, who 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, Clement says, Peter called to her by name, saying, “Remember the Lord.” When it was Peter’s turn to die, he pleaded to be crucified upside down because he wasn’t worthy to die as his Lord had died. And thus he was nailed to a cross head-downward.3
Peter’s life could be summed up in the final words of his second epistle: “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). That is exactly what Simon Peter did, and that is why he became Rock—the great leader of the early church.
Stanley, Charles F. 2005. The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.
MacArthur, John F., Jr. 2002. Twelve Ordinary Men: How the Master Shaped His Disciples for Greatness, and What He Wants to Do with You. Nashville, TN: W Pub. Group.
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