By Yang Laidi I’m Yang Laidi, sixty-two years old this year. In 1985, because my husband had health problems, our […]
How Peter Came to Know Jesus
During the time that Peter spent with , he saw many lovable characteristics in Jesus, many aspects worthy of emulation, and many which supplied him. Although Peter saw the being of God in Jesus in many ways, and saw many lovable qualities, at first he did not know Jesus. Peter began following Jesus when he was 20 years old, and continued so for six years. During that time, he never came to know Jesus, but was willing to follow Him purely out of admiration for Him. When Jesus first called to him on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, He asked: “Simon, son of Jonah, will you follow Me?” Peter said: “I must follow he who is sent by the heavenly Father. I must acknowledge he who is chosen by the . I will follow You.” At the time, Peter had heard tell of a man named Jesus, the greatest of the prophets, God’s beloved Son, and Peter was constantly hoping to find Him, hoping for a chance to see Him (because that is how he was then led by the Holy Spirit). Although he had never seen Him and had only heard rumors about Him, gradually a yearning and adoration for Jesus grew in his heart, and he often yearned to one day look upon Jesus. And how did Jesus call upon Peter? He too had heard tell of a man called Peter, and it was not that the Holy Spirit instructed Him: “Go to the Sea of Galilee, where there is one called Simon, son of Jonah.” Jesus heard someone say that there was one called Simon, son of Jonah, and that people had heard his sermon, that he too preached the of , and that the people who heard him were all moved to tears. After hearing this, Jesus followed that person, and made for the Sea of Galilee; when Peter accepted Jesus’ call, he followed Him.
During his time following Jesus, he had many opinions of Him and always judged Him from his own perspective. Although he had a certain degree of understanding of the Spirit, Peter was not very enlightened, hence his words when he said: “I must follow he who is sent by the heavenly Father. I must acknowledge he who is chosen by the Holy Spirit.” He did not understand the things Jesus did and received no enlightenment. After following Him for some time he grew interested in what He did and said, and in Jesus Himself. He came to feel that Jesus inspired both affection and respect; he liked to associate with Him and stay beside Him, and listening to Jesus’ words rendered him supply and help. Over the time he followed Jesus, Peter observed and took to heart everything about His life: His actions, words, movements, and expressions. He gained a deep understanding that Jesus was not like ordinary men. Although His human appearance was exceedingly ordinary, He was full of love, compassion, and tolerance for man. Everything He did or said was of great aid to others, and by His side Peter saw and learned things he had never seen or had before. He saw that although Jesus had neither a grand stature nor unusual humanity, He had a truly extraordinary and uncommon air about Him. Although Peter couldn’t fully explain it, he could see that Jesus acted different from everyone else, for He did things far different from that done by ordinary man. From his time in contact with Jesus, Peter also realized that His character was different from that of an ordinary man. He always acted steadily and never with haste, never exaggerated nor underplayed a subject, and conducted His life in a way that was both normal and admirable. In conversation, Jesus was elegant and graceful, open and cheerful yet serene, and never lost His dignity in the execution of His work. Peter saw that Jesus was sometimes taciturn, yet other times talked incessantly. He was sometimes so happy that He became agile and lively like a dove, and yet sometimes so sad that He did not talk at all, as if He were a weather-beaten mother. At times He was filled with anger, like a brave soldier charging off to kill enemies, and sometimes even like a roaring lion. Sometimes He laughed; other times He prayed and wept. No matter how Jesus acted, Peter grew to have boundless love and respect for Him. Jesus’ laughter filled him up with happiness, His sorrow plunged him into grief, His anger frightened him, while His mercy, forgiveness, and strictness made him come to truly love Jesus, developing a true reverence and longing for Him. Of course, Peter only gradually came to realize all of this once he had lived alongside Jesus for a few years.
Peter was a particularly sensible man, born with natural intelligence, yet he did a good many foolish things when following Jesus. At the very start, he had some notions about Jesus. He asked: “People say You are a prophet, so when You were eight and old enough to understand things, did You know You were God? Did You know You were conceived by the Holy Spirit?” Jesus replied: “No, I didn’t! Don’t I seem just like a very ordinary person to you? I am the same as anyone else. The person the Father sends is a regular person, not an extraordinary one. And though the work I do represents My heavenly Father, My image, My person, and My flesh cannot fully represent My heavenly Father, only one part of Him. Although I came from the Spirit, I am still a normal person, and My Father sent Me on earth as a regular person, not an extraordinary one.” Only when Peter heard this did he gain a slight understanding of Jesus. And it was only after he had gone through countless hours of Jesus’ work, of His teaching, His shepherding, and His sustaining, that he gained a much deeper understanding. In His 30th year, Jesus told Peter of His upcoming crucifixion, that He had come to do the work of crucifixion to redeem all mankind. He also told him that three days after the crucifixion, the Son of man would rise again, and once risen would appear to the people for 40 days. Peter was sad on hearing these words, but grew ever closer to Jesus as he took His words to heart.
After experiencing for some time, Peter came to realize that everything Jesus did was of the being of God, and he came to think that Jesus was exceptionally lovable. Only when he came to have this understanding did the Holy Spirit enlighten him from within. Then Jesus turned to His disciples and other followers and asked: “John, who do you say that I am?” John replied: “You are Moses.” He then turned to Luke: “And you, Luke, who do you say that I am?” Luke replied: “You are the greatest of the prophets.” He then asked a sister: “Who do you say that I am?” The sister replied: “You are the greatest of prophets who speaks many words from everlasting to everlasting. No one’s prophecies are as great as Yours, nor anyone’s wisdom more profound; You are a prophet.” Then Jesus turned to Peter and asked: “Peter, who do you say that I am?” Peter replied: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You come from heaven, You are not of the earth, You are not the same as God’s creations. We are on earth and You are here with us, but You are of heaven, You are not of the world, and You are not of the earth.” It was through his experience that the Holy Spirit enlightened him, which enabled him to come to this understanding. After this enlightenment, he admired everything Jesus had done even more, thought of Him as even more lovable, and was always in his heart reluctant to be parted with Jesus. So, the first time Jesus revealed Himself to Peter after He was crucified and resurrected Peter cried with exceptional happiness: “Lord! You are risen!” Then, weeping, he caught an extremely large fish, cooked it and served it to Jesus. Jesus smiled, but did not speak. Although Peter knew Jesus had been resurrected, he did not understand the mystery of it. When he gave Jesus the fish to eat, Jesus did not refuse and yet did not speak or sit down to eat, but instead suddenly vanished. This was an enormous shock to Peter, and only then did he understand that Jesus resurrected was different from the Jesus before. Once he realized this, Peter was grieved, but also gained comfort from knowing that the Lord had completed His task. He knew that Jesus had completed His task, that His time staying with man was over, and that man would have to walk his own path from then on. Jesus had once told him: “You too must drink from the bitter cup I have drunk from (this is what He said after the resurrection), you too must walk the path I have walked, you must lay down your life for Me.” Unlike now, work at that time did not take the form of a face-to-face conversation. During the Age of Grace, the work of the Holy Spirit was very hidden, and Peter suffered through much hardship, and would sometimes reach the point of exclaiming: “God! I have nothing but this life. Although it is not worth much to You, I wish to dedicate it to You. Although men are unworthy to love You, and their love and hearts are worthless, I believe You can see the intent in men’s hearts. And even though the bodies of men do not meet with Your acceptance, I wish for You to accept my heart.” Upon uttering these prayers he would receive encouragement, especially when he prayed: “I’ll dedicate my heart wholly to God. Even though I’m unable to do anything for God, I’ll loyally satisfy God and devote myself to Him wholeheartedly. I believe God must look upon my heart.” He said: “I ask for nothing in my life but that my thoughts of love for God and my heart’s desire be accepted by God. I was with the for so long, yet I never loved Him, this is my biggest debt. Even though I stayed with Him, I did not know Him, and even spoke irreverent words behind His back. Thinking of these things makes me feel even more indebted to the Lord Jesus.” He always prayed in this manner. He said: “I am less than dust. I can do nothing but dedicate this loyal heart to God.”
There was a climax in Peter’s experiences, when his body was almost totally broken, but Jesus gave him encouragement within. And He appeared to him once. When Peter was in tremendous suffering and his heart was broken, Jesus instructed him: “You were with Me on earth, and I was here with you. And though before we were together in heaven, it is, after all, of the spiritual world. Now I am returned to the spiritual world, and you are on earth. For I am not of earth, and though you too are not of earth, you have to fulfill your function on earth. As you are a servant, you must do your duty to the best of your ability.” Peter was comforted, having heard he could return to God’s side. When Peter was in such agony that he was almost bedridden, he felt remorse to the point of saying: “I am so corrupted, I am not able to satisfy God.” Jesus appeared to him and said: “Peter, could it be that you have forgotten the resolution you once made before Me? Have you really forgotten everything I said? Have you forgotten the resolution you made to Me?” Peter saw that it was Jesus and rose from the bed, and Jesus comforted him: “I am not of the earth, I have already told you—this you must understand, but have you forgotten something else I told you? ‘You are also not of the earth, not of the world.’ Right now there is work that you need to do, you cannot be grieved like this, you cannot suffer like this. Although men and God cannot coexist in the same world, I have My work and you have yours, and one day when your work is finished, we will be together in one realm, and I will lead you to be with Me forever.” Peter was comforted and reassured after hearing these words. He knew that this suffering was something he had to endure and experience, and was inspired from then on. Jesus specially appeared to him at every key moment, giving him special enlightenment and guidance, and doing much work in him. And what did Peter regret the most? Jesus asked Peter another question (although it is not recorded in the in this way) not long after Peter had said “You are the Son of the living God,” and that question was: “Peter! Have you ever loved Me?” Peter understood what He meant, and said: “Lord! I once loved the Father in heaven, but I admit I have never loved You.” Jesus then said: “If people do not love the Father in heaven, how can they love the Son on earth? And if people do not love the Son sent by God the Father, how can they love the Father in heaven? If people truly love the Son on earth, then they truly love the Father in heaven.” When Peter heard these words he realized his lack. He always felt remorse to the point of tears over his words “I once loved the Father in heaven, but I have never loved You.” After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus he felt even more remorse and grief over them. Recalling his past work and his present stature, he would often come to Jesus in prayer, always feeling regret and a debt due to his not having satisfied God’s desire, and not measuring up to God’s standards. These issues became his biggest burden. He said: “One day I will dedicate to You everything I have and everything I am, I will give You whatever is most valuable.” He said: “God! I have only one faith and only one love. My life is worth nothing, and my body is worth nothing. I have only one faith and only one love. I have faith in You in my mind and love for You in my heart; these two things only have I to give to You, and nothing else.” Peter was greatly encouraged by Jesus’ words, because before Jesus was crucified He had said to him: “I am not of this world, and you too are not of this world.” Later, when Peter reached a point of great pain, Jesus reminded him: “Peter, have you forgotten? I am not of the world, and it was only for My work that I departed earlier. You too are not of the world, have you forgotten? I have told you twice, do you not remember?” Peter heard Him and said: “I have not forgotten!” Jesus then said: “You once spent a happy time gathered with Me in heaven and a period of time by My side. You miss Me, and I miss you. Although the creatures are not worth mentioning in My eyes, how can I not love one who is innocent and lovable? Have you forgotten My promise? You must accept My commission on earth; you must fulfill the task that I entrusted you with. One day I will certainly lead you to be by My side.” After hearing this, Peter became even more encouraged, and received even greater inspiration, such that when he was on the cross, he was able to say: “God! I cannot love You enough! Even if You ask me to die, I still cannot love You enough! Wherever You send my soul, whether or not You fulfill Your promises, whatever You do afterward, I love You and believe in You.” What he held onto was his faith, and true love.