Matthew 10:1-4 – So These Guys Changed The World? Part 1 (Peter)

Posted: November 18, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew
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CHAPTER 10
Matthew 10:1-4
These Guys Changed The World? Part 1

At the end of Chapter 9, we saw Jesus pray for the harvest of souls. Matthew then immediately to begin Chapter 10 identifies Jesus’ disciples together all at once by name. It is clear that Jesus’ prayer in the moment was to send out his disciples into the harvest. Now, Matthew shows the disciples all together at one time and in one place so that Jesus could commission them to be sent out with his authority. They were commissioned to be his agents. There was well-developed case law in Jewish society as to agency law by this time. By using the term, “gave them authority”, Matthew was telling his audience that the disciples were agents of the Jesus imbued with the representative authority of Him. Here we read in Matthew 10:1-4:

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 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; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

It is clear from the Scriptures that the disciples were not mentioned together all at the same time and in the same place as they are at this moment. Matthew makes it clear that this is an important moment in this history of this band…“Jesus and The Galilee Gang.” It should be assumed that because Matthew makes this moment a big deal that previously the twelve were not always together with Jesus all the time. Prior to this moment, each of them probably rotated in and out of the band as they could afford to while maintaining their livelihood and families back home. Until this moment, they were bi-vocational it is safe to assume. Each had come to salvation through Jesus. Each was in transition from their secular life to full time ministry. From Chapter 10 forward, you can see their apprenticeship under Jesus. In Acts, after Pentecost, you will see them take on full-time ministry. After Pentecost, you see them through the power of the Holy Spirit and through humble submission to Christ’s great commission change the course of human history. These guys are giants to us. As John MacArthur says in his book, Twelve Ordinary Men, “if you have ever visited the great cathedrals of Europe, you might assume that the Apostles were larger-than-life stained-glass saints with shining halos who represented an exalted degree of spirituality.”

However, they were anything but extraordinary before they met Jesus. As we take a look at them, the question arises, “These guys changed the world? C’mon ya gotta be kidding me!” Let’s take a look at these men and see these guys not through the exalted status that they now have but back at the beginning when they were just “average Joes”…that is, until they met Christ. Any of us who struggle with whether we are adequate to carry out God’s purposes in the world should recall that the first ambassadors Jesus called were wholly inadequate. Most were simple, hard-working men. They were not well-educated with the exception of Judas. Most labored with their hands. Most were fishermen. They were common men who were called to do uncommon things for the kingdom. God uses especially those who will recognize their own inadequacy, for those who suppose their own ability adequate for God’s call usually end up depending on themselves rather than God. We see throughout the Bible of how God uses those that we would judge as inadequate to do great things for the kingdom. Moses murdered a man and also had a speech impediment. Paul was not a flashy speaker nor a good looking man. David was a murderer and an adulterer. And the list goes on and on of God using those who we would today disqualify from pastoral ministry. As the old saying goes in Christian circles, “God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”

The Apostle Peter
The first disciple we will take a look at is Peter. Andrew, Peter’s brother, was a disciple and follower of John the Baptist (John 1:35, 40), but who became a follower of Jesus after John’s testimony, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (1:36, 37). Andrew, in turn, located his brother Peter and said, “We have found the Messiah” (1:41). When Jesus saw Peter, he said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (1:42). Later, when Jesus chose the Twelve, Mark and Luke indicate that He gave to Simon the name Peter (Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14; cf. Matt 10:2). How long Peter and Andrew remained with Jesus at this time is not known. At the beginning of Jesus’ Galilean ministry (at least six to nine months after the first call), they, with the sons of Zebedee, were recalled by Jesus by the Sea of Galilee where they were casting their nets into the sea (Matt 4:18-20; Mark 1:16-18). Luke reports (5:1-11) this recall of Peter in connection with a fishing episode in which, under the instruction of Jesus, Peter and his companions caught a huge number of fish. In response Peter confessed, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). From that time on Peter and the others apparently were constant companions of Jesus (Matt 19:27; Mark 10:28; Luke 18:28; cf. John 6:68).

Peter held the position of leadership in the circle of the Twelve. He is listed first in the four lists of the twelve disciples in the New Testament (Matt 10:2; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13). In the gospels, he is the most frequently mentioned of the Twelve. Peter was one of the inner circle of the three or four intimate apostles of Jesus. He was often the spokesman for the Twelve (Matt 15:15; 16:16; Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20; Matt 18:21; 19:27; Mark 10:28; and Luke 18:28; 12:41). Peter owned a house in Capernaum. There, Jesus healed his mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38, 39). Luke places the incident at the beginning of Jesus’ Galilean ministry; Matthew places the event some time later (Matt 8:14, 15).

Peter appears as a man of contrasts. Jesus renamed Simon with the Hebrew name, Cephas, meaning stone. In writing the New Testament books in Greek, Cephas would translate to Petros which means rock. From Petros, we get the Latin Petros and later the English, Peter. All of these names though mean solid, rock, stability, reliability. He was not always stable and reliable as his name implies. Following his splendid confession at Caesarea Philippi, he objected violently to Jesus’ predictions regarding His passion. Peter had not yet fully understood the Messianic role of Jesus—his messiah was still a Jewish national and political leader who could not suffer defeat in death.

On the way to the Mount of Olives, according to Matthew and Mark (Luke and John place this episode in the Upper Room), Peter protested strongly against Jesus’ statement that all His followers were going to abandon Him, and Peter pledged his loyalty to the utmost. Jesus countered with the somber prediction of Peter’s denials (Matt 26:30-35; Mark 14:26-31; Luke 22:31-34; John 13:36-38). Later that evening, the prediction of Jesus came true—Peter denied any association with “the Galilean” (Matt 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:25-27). Even prior to the denials, while in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter with James and John failed Jesus in this critical hour by falling asleep. According to Matthew and Mark, Peter was singled out for a rebuke (Matt 26:40; Mark 14:37). Shortly thereafter, Peter displayed a flash of bravery, although misguided, when he cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus’ response was a mild rebuke of Peter.

The Apostle Peter displayed vital leadership in the early history of the Church as recorded in the first half of the Acts of the Apostles. Shortly after the ascension, he presided over the appointment of a replacement for Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:15-26). Peter boldly addressed the crowds on Pentecost Sunday, and his sermon was instrumental in the conversion of about three thousand (Acts 2). This sermon reveals that Peter was well versed in the OT Scriptures (also evident in his epistles). He saw clearly the link between the OT prophetic utterances and Jesus of Nazareth. He recognized the emerging Church of Jesus Christ as the continuation of the OT people of God, a continuity substantiated through the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Early Church.

After Pentecost, Peter miraculously healed a lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple (Acts 3:1-10). Peter preached another sermon (3:11-26), which led to his and John’s arrest (4:1-4). The next morning Peter spoke impressively in court (4:5-22). Peter was the spokesman in the episode involving Ananias and Sapphira (5:1-11). Peter and John went to Samaria after Philip’s initial work of evangelism there (8:14-24). Here Peter forcefully rebuked Simon. Later, Peter performed miracles of healing in Lydda (healing of Aeneas, 9:32-34) and in Joppa (raising of Dorcas, 9:36-43).

Next we will look at the Apostle John, but for now we have looked at Peter. Peter, the inconsistent, impulsive, completely flawed individual that he was, became, as Paul called him, “a pillar of the church.”

Jesus could have completely rejected Peter after his denials. Jesus did not. He restores Peter to his place among the disciples. He saw beyond the moment and saw what Peter was capable of being when the Holy Spirit was in him. He saw him as the leader that was to hold the disciples together. He saw him as the forceful orator who added 3,000 people to the ranks of Christ followers with one speech. He saw a man that would have such faith that he could perform miracles in Christ’s name. This was Peter, an uneducated fisherman with a fiery, act first-think second, personality. Peter was a mess of man. He could not get out of his own way many times as he was being discipled up by Jesus. Yet, Jesus was patient with Him. So, if you think that you don’t have it all together and that you have to get it all together before you become a leader in the faith, think again. Think Peter. Think all of us. None of us who are currently in Christian leadership positions have it all together. We are all flawed individuals operating in the grace of God. God is growing us through the action of the Holy Spirit. All of us have problems and issues that we are dealing with. Yesterday, I was speaking of our senior pastor and his wife at a meeting. I said that we think that Jeff and Amy have it all together. They seem to be the epitome of great leaders. Without their vision and their leadership under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our church would have not gone from 12 people in their living room to a church of 650-700 people. They always seem to have the right thing to say to us leaders at the right moment. They wow us! But, ya know, Jeff is a grocer’s son from Green Pond, SC and Amy is a preacher’s kid who grew up in the alley ways of Caracas, Venezuela and in churches here in South Carolina. They have bills to pay, four girls to eventually send through college. You name the common problems that you have. They have them too. At times, I bet Jeff and Amy feel wholly inadequate for the position that they find themselves in as the senior pastor and his wife of a large church, not a megachurch, but a large church. Just as Peter by the standards of his day and by his own admission, he did not feel qualified. But Jesus used Him. Jesus saw in him what Peter could be. Jesus saw what Peter would become. Similarly, Jesus sees what Jeff and Amy can be and is nudging them and pushing them to be the visionary leaders of our church. None of us are ever really qualified to be a representative agent of Jesus Christ for we are all imperfect sinners. But we luckily get to serve Him because of His grace and His belief in what the Holy Spirit can do through those who realize their inadequacies and depend wholly and solely on Him.

Christ can use you and me in the same way. None of us has a past that is so completely beyond horrible that we cannot be redeemed by Christ. Christ sees through our sin and loves us anyway. Christ sees what we can become after salvation. Even after salvation, Christ sees the repentant heart after confessing sin to Our Lord. Christ sees what we will become for his kingdom if only we let go of our sins and let go of our mistakes and simply let go. When we fully experience the joy of restoration that Peter felt, we can indeed become world changers like Peter did. Don’t let it be lost on you that Jesus asked Peter three times if Peter loved Him. Peter got frustrated with the repeated question, but Jesus was demonstrating to Him that He had sufficient grace for Peter’s three denials. Jesus’ has grace sufficient for your mistakes and mine. He has grace sufficient for a man like me to be a servant of God. Twice divorced because of not allowing God to guide me to my mate and not have God in the center of those marriages, I would be easily disqualified. But God still can use me. You may be a former adulterer who thinks your past mistake will disqualify you, but God can redeem it and He can use you. You may be a recovering drug addict that stole, lied, cheated, whored around to support your lifestyle in the past, but God can redeem it. Even after we become Christ followers, like Peter, we are going to fall down and make mistakes. But we must confess our sins to God and walk away from them and allow Him to restore us. He can still use us. Our mistakes can be our ministry when we lay our sins at the cross and walk away from them. Our ministry can be our past mistakes and how God redeemed it and used it.

Will you let go of your past and your sins, and let Jesus grab you by the hand and present you with the Holy Spirit? Will you let the Holy Spirit have all of you? Peter was just a fisherman, a regular guy. He was a regular guy that failed miserably when it counted the most. Peter often acted first and thought later. But, he became one of the most highly regarded men of the church for his leadership, his decisions (such as approving Paul’s taking of the message to the Gentile nations), his writings, and his devotion to the Lord.

Like Peter, he used his past not as something to wallow in but rather as a reason to dive deeper into the joy of salvation and restoration. Peter, so ashamed of how he treated Jesus when it counted, counted it immense joy when Jesus restored him (ironically asking him three times to feed his sheep). After that incident combined with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon him at Pentecost, the man was absolutely on fire for the Kingdom. Do you think so little of your salvation that you have no joy – the unbridled joy of being redeemed when you should be cast into the abyss? If you have not found salvation, do you want this joy? Do you want to climb out of the depths of despair and into that complete joy? Peter did!

Or are you wondering about this Jesus thing? Do you think your sins, your lifestyle, what you have done in your past, the people that you hang around with prevents you from coming to Christ? Jesus has grace sufficient for your mistakes, your sins, your past. He is waiting for you to come to Him and lay your sins at His feet. His grace is sufficient for you. He can redeem your past and make it your powerful testimony of how Jesus Christ changes lives. Look at Peter. He was just a fisherman on the outskirts of the religious lifestyle of his day. He didn’t know much theology. He was just a common man. But he came to know Jesus Christ. Even after coming to know Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Messiah, Peter still made mistakes and was not perfect, but ya know, God used him. Peter went on to be one of the great leaders of the Christian faith. He can redeem your life. He can use your life. He can make you new and bold and a powerful force in the kingdom of God. Just come to Him. He has grace sufficient for you.

Amen and amen.

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