26. A Man Called Peter

Did you ever read the book ‘A man called Peter’?

 “A man called Peter” was written by Catherine Marshall about her deceased husband Peter Marshall, a Presbyterian minister who had been chaplain to the President of the United States.

Our readings this session focus on another man called Peter.  There are three major highlights in his life, although there are many other passages that mention him.

Matthew 16:13-20; Luke 22: 54-62; John 21:15-22

The Apostle Peter – Photo by Marina Gr:


Like a number of other disciples of Jesus, Simon Peter was a fisherman.

Andrew, his brother was a disciple of John the Baptist. One day Jesus approached as John was baptizing folks in the Jordan River at Bethabara. John proclaimed to his followers, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36b) Andrew and John, another of John’s disciples followed Jesus and spent the rest of the day with Him.

Andrew then went and found his brother Simon and introduced him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, the son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter) (John 1:42).

Although from the outset of his gospel John calls him Simon Peter it would appear that his name was actually Simon until Jesus renamed him Peter.

Like many others, I have been puzzled at the seeming clash between John’s account of Peter’s calling as above and what we read in Matthew’s gospel.

Matthew states, “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.   And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18,19 ESV)


In an article with the title immediately above, Charles Spurgeon explains the dilemma. He points out that John’s account is of Peter’s initial conversion and calling to become Jesus’s disciple.

Then in Matthew, we have an account of a second, later calling. After a miraculous catch of fish along with Andrew, James, and John, Jesus called them to become evangelists—fishers of men.

Spurgeon sees Peter’s third calling as when he was called to be a leader—one of the twelve Apostles who would become the founders of a new religion—Christianity.


On one occasion when Jesus and His disciples were able to get away from the crowds, they were in the area of  Caesarea Philippi. Jesus took the opportunity to cross-question the disciples. “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  His disciples came up with several answers: John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.

Then Jesus made it personal, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15 ESV)

It was Peter who came up with the reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  

To which Jesus responded, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven!” (Matthew 16:17 NET)


The twelve were gathered together with Jesus in the Upper Room for the Passover meal. During the meal, Jesus washed their feet. Jesus then announced that one of them would betray Him and the others would desert Him.

Jesus informed Peter, “Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad, as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31,32 GNB)

Peter’s immediate  response was, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you and to die with you!” (Verse 33 GNB)

But Jesus answered, “The rooster will not crow tonight until you have said three times that you do not know me.” (Verse 34 GNB)


After the Passover meal, the eleven of us along with Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spent time in agonizing prayer. We were so tired we fell asleep. Suddenly Judas was there with a number of temple guards who promptly arrested Jesus.

The other disciples fled, but John and I followed at a distance. Jesus was taken to the home of the high priest. I was outside at the gate until John fetched me.

I went to sit with the servants and temple police, who were trying to keep themselves warm in front of a charcoal fire. Three times someone accused me of being part of Jesus’s group. Each time I denied this.  After the third time. a rooster crowed and I noticed Jesus turn and give me a long look. Then I remembered what he had said about me denying him. I felt awful. I went away and wept.

Although I heard what was happening to Jesus,  I couldn’t bring myself to go to Calvary. I couldn’t bear to see them crucify him.


After Jesus’s resurrection, the disciples were told to meet Him in Galilee. Peter’s spirit was still wounded by his denials, so Jesus deliberately reconstructed a whole series of events to bring that troubling memory to the surface. (See session 12 – Deja vu.)

Then after breakfast, Jesus singled Peter out and began His healing therapy.

  • How many times did Peter deny Jesus?

Three times Peter denied knowing Jesus.

Three times Jesus asks Peter the same question, “…do you truly love me?” ( John 21:15,16,17)  Twice Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” (Verses 15,16)

The third time Peter responded, “Lord, you know everything. You know I love you.” ((John 21:17 The Message)

Three times he tells Jesus “I love you.

By this threefold challenge not only was Peter assured of his restoration but he was also re-commissioned by Jesus. In effect, Jesus said, “Love me… go and care for my flock”

Then Peter heard again those wonderful words, he first heard years before alongside that same Galilean Sea, “Follow me!” (John 21:19)

Peter went on to become a faithful and influential leader in the New Testament church.


We’ve all failed our Lord. Like Peter, we need the assurance that all is forgiven.

Just as Jesus went to amazing lengths to restore Peter our Lord wants us to be assured of forgiveness and restoration.

Until those hurtful memories of your failure are dealt with, you can never be the person that God intends you to be. Share on X

In closing, I suggest you bring any areas of hurt to Jesus in prayer and ask Him to bring about a healing. Pray along with this song.

If you haven’t yet read the Introduction to Encounters with Jesus, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.

21. Moving mountains

Have you noticed how mountains are often featured in scripture?

  • Can you name any biblical mountains and describe what took place there?

Our passage today is one of three in which Jesus gave his disciples the assurance that they would be able to move mountains.

Matthew 17:1-20

Imagine the chaos we would cause if we were to command Cape Town’s famous Table Mountain with its cable car,  restaurant, and everything else, to move into Table Bay.

Oil Painting of Table Mountain commissioned by my son and his wife


To celebrate his defeat of the Parthians, King Herod the Great built a mountain palace called Herodium. Before he built it, there was no mountain.

How can you build a mountaintop palace without a mountain?

Simple, Herod had a mountain built. As the article Herodium, indicates, he took earth from another site to create his very own personal mountain palace/fort.

Jesus doesn’t call His disciples to shovel dirt around as Herod seems to have done. He was obviously not referring to moving mountains physically.


We find Jesus’ promise that if His followers have enough faith they will be able to move mountains in three verses from the gospels (Matthew 17:20;  21:21 and Mark 11:23). However we’re going to concentrate on the incident recorded in Matthew 17.

Briefly Matthew 21:21 and Mark 11;23 both relate to Jesus cursing of the unproductive fig tree. The People’s New Testament states, ’the cursing of the fig tree was a parable in action, illustrating how the fruitless Jewish nation should wither away. It had leaves, but no fruit.’

The Jewish religion with its temple sacrificial system was already in a state of decline. “This mountain,”- the temple, all that it symbolized with its collection of sacred furnishings would soon be destroyed. This happened as Jesus’ predicted in 70 AD.

But surely there is more to Jesus’ words than a declaration that the mountain of Jewish worship was about to be moved.


In our passage from Matthew 17 we have a different scenario to the other two references—Jesus was transfigured, probably on Mt Hermon, before Peter and the brothers, James and John. Coming down the mountain, Jesus urged them to secrecy until after His resurrection.

At the bottom of the mountain, they were met by a crowd of people. As they approached, a man fell to his knees begging, Sir, have mercy on my son! He is an epileptic and has such terrible attacks that he often falls in the fire or into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” (Matthew 17:15,16  GNB)

Jesus ordered a demon out of the boy and he was healed. When the disciples had Jesus to themselves, they asked, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?”

Jesus response was, “Because you have so little faith. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move

On this occasion Jesus’ words followed on the disciples’ inability to cast out a demon from that young boy. Yet earlier on in Jesus’ ministry the disciples had been able to cast out demons. (Luke 10:17) Why not now?

The mountain Jesus appeared to be speaking about was the mountain of their failure because of their very little faith


Taking a step in faith and opening one’s life to Jesus for the first time is a truly wonderful experience. But being a follower of Jesus is by no means easy. We all face mountainous problems and difficulties.

Contrary to our human nature,

  • We are called upon to deny self, take up our cross and follow Christ.

  • To die to sin—put down those sinful lusts, words, actions, etc.,—a very difficult and painful task.

  • Obey God in all things.

  • Willingly forsake all for Christ and the gospel—that’s a really big sacrifice to make.

  • To top it all, in our effort to live a faith-filled life we are constantly hampered by our adversary, the devil.

  • And because we are deeply committed Christians does not free us from mountainous difficulties and hardships – relationship problems, health problems, financial problems, social problems, work problems, hurtful words, harmful actions, crime and violence, the list seems endless.

  • What mountains that you are facing at this moment?


A closer look at those three passages where Jesus said we would be able to move mountains reveals a common phrase—’you can say to this mountain’ (Matthew 17:20; 21:21) or ‘if anyone says to this mountain’ (Mark 11:23)

In all three passages Jesus instructed His followers to speak to the mountain.

In 2 Corinthians 4:13 Paul wrote “The scripture says, “I spoke because I believed.” (GNB) In the same spirit of faith we also speak because we believe.

Jesus told the disciples to have faith and “say to this mountain”.  In a nutshell believe and speak to the mountain.

This concept has been grossly abused by the ‘name it, claim it’ movement. But we must take care that, because some abuse it, we don’t set aside an important biblical concept—believe and speak to those mountainous problems and needs.

Under Christ’s umbrella, we do have authority to move certain mountains –

  • A time consuming personal conflict;

  • The spiritual progress of a family member or friend being hampered by some obstacle;

  • Our being unable to fulfil a God determined plan by some form of delay.

  • The need for healing in order for God’s work to continue.

Whether we have the faith to tell a mountain to move or whether we actually ask God to move it is not the issue.


The same Jesus who told His disciples to say to this mountain ‘Move from here to there’ also taught them to ask for what they needed in prayer. (John 15:7)

In Mark’s record of Jesus’ response to the disciple’s question “Why couldn’t we cast it out?” he adds “This kind can come out only by prayer.”(Mark 9:29)

Our spoken Christ-centered prayer has the power to remove the mountains in our life. Share on X


What if despite fervent believing prayer and speaking boldly to that the mountain, it won’t move?

I think Beth Moore has the answer. So…if you pray that God will move a mountain and He doesn’t, or you have the faith to tell the mountain to move and it won’t, assume Christ wants you to climb it instead and see Him transfigured. (Believing God – Beth Moore)

Peter James and John went up with Jesus to a higher level and saw Jesus transfigured before them. Who knows what Jesus has for us if we are prepared to respond to His call to “Come up here” to a higher level of commitment to Him.

In closing please make this your sincere prayer: Christ Jesus, you spoke boldly to your disciples with the promise, If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20) Lord, develop in me the kind of faith that moves mountains by the power of your Holy Spirit.

If you haven’t yet read the Introduction to Encounters with Jesus, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.