The disciple Simon, before Jesus changed his name to Peter, was one of Jesus’ three top men, part of His inner circle and one of His best friends.

Until he denied he knew Jesus. 

During Jesus’ trial, Simon stood in the patio of the Roman court, warming his hands by the fire. Three different people accused him of being a follower of Jesus. Simon denied all three charges. At the final accusation, he mixed his denial with cursing. “*&^% it, I told you I don’t know the man!” 

The moment those words left Simon’s mouth, Jesus, standing nearby, locked eyes with him. Can you imagine that look, filled with sorrow and anguish?

When Simon realized Jesus had heard his denial, he ran off and wept hot, remorseful tears. How could he refuse to acknowledge the man he’d followed for three years? Did his time with Jesus mean nothing?

Marvelous Confirmation

Before we look down on Simon— imagining we’d behave better if we’d been in his sandals—we need to remember something. Crucifixion was the most excruciating form of execution, and perhaps Simon panicked. It’s likely he feared the Roman guards would now hunt down Jesus’ followers and crucify them. That kind of terror drives a person to say things they never imagined.

But after Jesus rose from the dead, He forgave Simon and gave him a new name: Peter, which means “rock.” Not the tiny pebbles you use in gardens but a huge boulder used in battle. 

Jesus no longer saw Peter as a weak, fearful man who’d turn on his best friend to save his own skin. Jesus saw Peter as a powerhouse who could lead others into God’s kingdom and teach them how to follow Jesus.

Jesus sees us not for who we are now, but for who He knows we can be.

And that’s exactly what Peter did. On the day of Pentecost, after Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, he boldly spoke to the crowd of repentance from sin and promised them the gift of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:1-40). Three thousand people who heard Peter preach that day believed, repented of their sins and were baptized.

Not bad for a first sermon. 

One thousand new believers for each time Peter had denied he knew Jesus. What a marvelous gift, a confirmation to Peter that Jesus wanted to use him in spite of his past. Peter became one of the most powerful individuals to spread the good news of Jesus throughout the world. 

Who We Can Be

Jesus may not call us in the same way He chose Peter. But everyone who makes Jesus the Lord of their lives—no matter what their past record reads like—can be filled with the Holy Spirit and become a powerhouse for God, a solid rock like Peter.

I believe God included Peter’s story in the Bible to encourage us that no matter how impulsive, no matter what dumb decisions we’ve made, Jesus will use us if we repent and receive His forgiveness.

Because Simon Peter’s story isn’t just about him. 

Jesus sees us not for who we are now, but for who He knows we can be.



Read Luke 22:54-62, John 20:19-22, and Acts 2:1-40

• Who: A follower of Jesus who denied Him at His trial
• When: AD 33
• Where: In Jerusalem

Illustration: Wodcut by Gustave Doré (1832-1883), courtesy of the Doré Bible Gallery

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