Think with me about the disciple Peter, how did he learn Christ? This series began here, if you missed it. We are thinking specifically of Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians that “they did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus…” (See Ephesians 4:14-21)
Just as we learn Christ by hearing the Gospel accounts, he learned by living as it happened. He heard Jesus, he listened to and conversed with Jesus. And he wholeheartedly proclaimed what our hearts exult in as well:
But what was Peter’s first reaction as he realized Jesus was not just a man? Let’s walk through Luke 5, which opens with Jesus crowded by those “listening to the word of God” as He spoke. Jesus noticed some boats, He got into one and told Simon [soon to be known as Peter] to put out a little; Jesus continued teaching from the boat. When He finished, Jesus told Simon to put out a little and fish some more.
Is Jesus a fisherman? Did all the other fisherman recognize Him as a fisherman? Why would Simon listen to Him? Simon was a bit confused, thinking he knew it was not a good time to fish. But he did it anyway.
Why did he feel compelled? (imagine…)
Needless to say, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe who upholds all things by the Word of His power turned out to know a bit about the fish in this lake. Simon’s nets had so many fish they began to break. Simon Peter saw, and “fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, ‘Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ For amazement had seized him…”
Simon fell down. He was not casually excited, he did not high five Jesus. He fell down. Weak? Humbled? Afraid? Trembling at His word? Amazed. But also, filled with a sudden knowledge of who he was himself–a sinful man.
Simon met holiness; he saw goodness and righteousness; he saw the radiance of God’s glory and was undone. Much like Isaiah, and other Old Testament people we read of, they have a vision of who God really is and are filled with reverence and awe, and at the same time a true knowledge of their own sinfulness.
Did you look to Jesus and realize you were too sinful to be in the presence of the living God? He came to seek and save such as know; to save sinners, not the self-righteous-whitewashed tombs.
From time to time, as the Spirit leads us in our growth in Christlikeness, He will reveal things about ourselves that have us wanting to cringe, and fall down… He is also the lifter of our heads though–reminding us that we are indeed Children of God! (Romans 8; Psalm 3)
Let’s recap: First fear. Awe. Recognition that “I am not good. I am sinful. I am not worthy.” But this was followed soon after by “yes, I will follow You! You have words of eternal life!” (John 6:64-71). We have the benefit of reading the Gospel accounts and seeing Jesus’ patience with Peter, and Peter’s growth. Sometimes we do not see that Jesus is patient with us too.
We learn by listening…
Listening to the Gospel accounts, learning how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament promises and prophesies, but also listening to the ones that Jesus said would receive knowledge to pass on to the Church. Who were they?
Building upon the cornerstone of Jesus Christ, we must remember that we are not those remaining 11 disciples, we are those who believe having heard their witness, having received the faith once for all handed down (Jude). They are the foundation spoken of in Ephesians 2. Jesus prayed for us, for the oneness we would experience in His Body–because we learn Christ through the proclamation of those who heard Him with their ears, saw Him, followed Him. We trust the men chosen to write the New Testament Scriptures.
Have you ever appreciated the New Testament as the words commissioned by the Word made flesh, and inspired by the Holy Spirit? Have you also kept in mind that Jesus says He never spoke on His own initiative, but was always one with the Father in what He said (see John 12:44-50). When you read slowly enough to really pay attention to the three persons of the Godhead, you will notice the Trinity at work, in unity, in all things. What a fun thing to ponder and journal through!
Next week, we ask the question: what did Paul mean by “the mystery of godliness”? And then we’ll spend a few weeks walking through 1 and 2 Peter, keeping in mind that Peter and Paul are among those Jesus designated for us to listen to. We will listen, specifically looking for how to continue learning, and how that relates to “the mystery of godliness.”