My good friends Siôn, Sara and Peter have asked me to write a little bit about myself. I’m not very good at this stuff, my online dating profile is awful and nobody ever swipes right on Tinder but I’ll give it a go.
At heart I’m still a fisherman from that small lakeside town of Bethsaida. My father, Jonah, was also a fisherman as was my little brother Andrew. Andi and I argued a lot but he’s a good kid really. It was him that introduced me a carpenter called Joshua but more of that later.
Growing up in northern Palestine wasn’t easy; we didn’t have much but as kids but we played in the lake and learnt how to sail and fish from my father. The local snobs called us “Am Harez” (people of the land) but it wasn’t used in a nice way and the kids of the well to do used to make fun of us in the Synagogue schools. I was a mouthy guy even then and my ‘act first ask questions later’ attitude got me into a lot of trouble. Still we were better fighters than them and I never went home on the losing side of an argument. I can still hear my mother shouting at me, “Simon, you’ve been fighting again, wait until your father gets home!”
I went through the usual Bar Mitzvah and went to the Synagogue when I had to, I would much rather sit on my boat with my mates James and John (the sons of Zebedee) and catch a few fish and tell a few stories than listen to those boring Rabbis rabbit on. As we got older we got braver and we’d even sail to some far off places to see the ladies and it was on one such visit to Capernaum that I met my future wife. Not long after that trip I moved there to live with the mother in law but I never lost touch with my brother and friends.
Andi was always a dreamer – chasing after this preacher or the next and one day he came to me saying he’d found the Messiah. He’d been following that crackpot John the Baptiser but I had nothing else to do that day so I went with him to meet this “messiah” who turned out to be the son of a carpenter from Nazareth named Joshua or as you know him Jesus. He was actually an okay guy with some fun stories and a good sense of humour; not your usual dry, smelly prophet – he even knew a bit about fishing.
A few days later me and the boys were down by the lake when this Jesus guy walks up to us and asks us to follow him because he will make us ‘fishers of men’. Awful line I know but I was interested so me, Andi, James and John became some of the first followers of Jesus.
For a while it didn’t make much difference. We still went to work and occasionally we’d go and listen to Jesus talk but slowly, over the next few months, Jesus began to take up more and more of my time.
The crowds grew, I’ll give him that, Jesus could preach, and every so often I’d lend him my boat and he’d stand in it and talk to the people on the shore. After these little speeches we’d do a little fishing and he’d tell us where to fish and we always got a big catch.
Things started to change for me when it got personal. Yes I’d seen Jesus ‘heal’ a few people but I’d never been convinced it wasn’t all a set up until my mother in law was sick. She had one of those fevers that could go either way. They would last for weeks and the sick would either slowly get better or we’d be burying them in a few days. Well she was lying in bed sick and Jesus came to the house. He was hungry so he healed her and she made him breakfast. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it, but I was there and it happened. (My mate Matthew wrote about it in his book – chapter 8 verses 14-17). From then on things changed for me and I got serious about what Jesus was saying.
That’s not to say I didn’t make an idiot of myself from time to time – the embarrassing story of the water walking (or more correctly the water sinking incident) stands out. I thought I could do it and I did manage to walk few steps but have you ever tried to walk on a stormy sea without sinking? Let me tell you I did better than you would.
I saw many other signs and miracles, far too many to mention here but because of those I was the first one to admit that Jesus was the Messiah (and he told me not to tell anyone, work that out??) but I did more stupid things than good ones. I told Jesus not to wash my feet at that supper party he had and later that night when the officials came to arrest him I cut off some servants ear. Yes, I also betrayed him 3 times that night – but you face the might of the Roman authorities and try not to waver. I learnt my lesson, that night but more of that later too. I wasn’t really around for the crucifixion and I’m pleased I wasn’t but I was the first at the tomb that Sunday morning. I didn’t believe it that Jesus was alive but I was first there. I always could run faster than John.
In the days after Jesus came back he forgave me and I began to live up to the name he gave me – Peter. I like it – and I take it to mean the Rock – don’t listen to that silly doctor Luke who said it could mean crag or even pretty stone. Rubbish – it means ROCK, big, solid, unmoving Rock!!
After Jesus went back into Heaven people started to look to me as a ‘leader’ of this new movement called the Church and it wasn’t just the “Christians”. I was arrested twice by the Jewish authorities; God spoke to me and told me it was okay to eat bacon sandwiches (best thing ever) and that it was ok to talk to non jewish people too and my good friend Cornelius was the first of them to join us.
I won’t dwell on this but I was arrested and then freed by an angel, that’s a great story!
I’m heading to Rome now. Don’t think it will be a very eventful trip but if it is I’ll let you all know.
See you soon,