Those three years seemed to go by in a blink of an eye. Yet, that day on the beach seemed like a lifetime ago.
He and his brother fished all night, catching nothing. In the morning, an itinerant preacher came by and asked to use his boat to preach from. After the sermon, a miraculous catch of fish, and then Peter heard the words of Jesus he would never, ever forget.
“Follow me, I will make you fishers of men. Do not be afraid.”
Afraid? Peter wasn’t afraid of anything! He would stand up to even Jesus when he didn’t like what he was hearing!
But then the betrayal by Judas, the arrest by the temple guards, and the farce of a trial at the High Priest’s house.
This man who earlier wasn’t afraid to confess boldly that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of Living God, cowered in fear before a servant girl. All she did was ask him if he was one of Jesus’ followers.
Three times, Peter ended up denying he even knew Jesus.
Then the crucifixion and the bitterness of living through that Saturday with the knowledge that he had all but nailed Jesus to that cross.
Yes, all that changed the next day. Jesus was suddenly there! The tomb was empty – he had seen it was empty – and Jesus was there with him in the upper room that afternoon!
Then Jesus was gone. Peter saw Him ascend to the heavens.
Peter mulled that over for 10 days.
He gathered again with his brothers and sisters in the Upper Room. Suddenly a loud sound, like a rushing wind, and what appeared to be tongues of flame!
This was it! The promised gift! Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit and this was it!
This man who stood up to the Son of God, then cowered in fear before a servant girl, now found himself standing before a crowd of thousands.
“Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.”
And when he was finished speaking, the Holy Spirit converted over 3000 people – the Christian Church was born and set into motion!
Ah, those were heady days for Peter. But now he finds himself in a very different place. Chained to a wall, in a damp and dark Roman jail. His death sentence was delivered and he was waiting for his own crucifixion.
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials….”
Peter didn’t ask, “Why?” As in “Why me?” Rather, he focused on “What for?” For what reason do we suffer? What will be the good in my own death on a cross?
“…so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
When you go through tough and terrible times, it is only natural to ask, “Why me?”
But I challenge you (and myself!), by the power of the Holy Spirit, to ask instead, “What for?” And to know this answer – to give God glory so others may know the hope that you have within you!