During the time that Peter spent with Jesus, 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 gospel of the kingdom of heaven, 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, 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 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.
One evening, several of the disciples, including Peter, were on the fishing boat. They were all together with Jesus, and Peter asked Jesus a very naive question: “Lord! There is a question I have had for a very long time that I would like to ask You.” Jesus replied: “Then please ask!” Peter then asked: “Was the work done during the Age of Law Your doing?” Jesus smiled, as if saying: “This child, how naive he is!” He then continued with purpose: “It was not Mine, it was Jehovah and Moses’ doing.” Peter heard this and exclaimed: “Oh! So it was not Your doing.” Once Peter had said this, Jesus spoke no more. Peter thought to himself: “It was not You that did it, so no wonder You have come to destroy the law, as it was not Your doing.” His heart was also “eased.” Afterward, Jesus realized that Peter was quite naive, but because he didn’t have any insight at the time, Jesus didn’t say anything else or directly refute him. Once Jesus gave a sermon in a synagogue, and many people were present, including Peter, to hear Him preach. Jesus said: “The One that will come from everlasting to everlasting will do the work of redemption during the Age of Grace, to redeem all of mankind from sin, but He will not be constrained by any regulation in leading man out of sin. He will walk out of the law and enter into the Age of Grace. He will redeem all of mankind. He will stride forward from the Age of Law into that of Grace, yet none know Him, He who came from Jehovah. The work Moses did was granted by Jehovah; Moses drafted the law because of the work Jehovah had done.” Once this was said, He continued: “Those who abolish the commandments of the Age of Grace during the Age of Grace will meet with calamity. They must stand in the temple and receive God’s destruction, and fire shall come upon them.” When Peter had finished listening to this, he had somewhat of a reaction. During a period of his experience, Jesus shepherded and sustained Peter, speaking heart-to-heart with him, which gave Peter a slightly better understanding of Jesus. As Peter thought of the preaching of Jesus that day, then the question he had asked Him when they were on the fishing boat and the response Jesus had given, as well as how He had laughed, it was then that he understood it all. Afterward, the Holy Spirit enlightened Peter, and only through this did he understand that Jesus was the Son of the living God. Peter’s understanding came from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, but there was a process to his understanding. It was through asking questions, hearing Jesus preach, then through receiving Jesus’ special fellowship and His special shepherding, that Peter came to realize Jesus was the Son of the living God. It was not achieved overnight; it was a process, and this became a help to him in his later experiences. Why did Jesus not do the work of perfection in other people, but just in Peter? Because only Peter understood that Jesus was the Son of the living God, and none other knew this. Though there were many disciples who knew much in their time following Him, their knowledge was superficial. This is why Peter was chosen by Jesus as the exemplar of being made perfect. What Jesus said to Peter then is what He says to people today, whose knowledge and life entry must reach that of Peter. It is in accordance with this requirement and this path that God will perfect everyone. Why are people today required to have real faith and true love? What Peter experienced you too must experience, what fruits Peter gained from his experiences must too be manifested in you, and the pain that Peter suffered, you too must surely undergo. The path you walk is the same that Peter walked. The pain you suffer is the pain that Peter suffered. When you receive glory and when you live out a real life, then you live out the image of Peter. The path is the same, and in accordance with this is one made perfect. However, the caliber of the people of today is somewhat lacking in comparison to that of Peter, for times have changed, and so too has the extent of corruption. And also for Judea was a long-standing kingdom with an ancient culture. So you must try to improve your caliber.
Peter was a very sensible person, keen in everything he did, and also extremely honest. He suffered many setbacks. He came into contact with society at the age of 14, attending school while also often going to the synagogue. He had a lot of enthusiasm and was always willing to attend meetings. At the time, Jesus had not yet officially started His work; this was just the beginning of the Age of Grace. Peter started coming into contact with religious figures when he was 14; by the time he was 18 he was in contact with the religious elite, but after he had seen the religious chaos behind the scenes, he left. Seeing how crafty, cunning, and wrought by strife these people were, he became extremely disgusted (this was how the Holy Spirit worked at the time, to make him perfect. He especially moved him and did some special work in him), and so he withdrew from the synagogue at the age of 18. His parents persecuted him and would not let him believe (they belonged to the devil, and had no faith). Finally, Peter left home and traveled at will, fishing and preaching for two years, during which time he also led a fair few people. Now you should be able to clearly see the path that was taken by Peter. If you have seen this clearly, then you will have determined the work being done today, so you would not complain or be passive, or long for anything. You should experience Peter’s mood at the time: He was stricken with sorrow; he no longer asked for a future or any blessing. He did not seek the profit, happiness, fame, or fortune of the world, and only sought to live a most meaningful life, which was to repay [a] and converted them to motivation. Later, after a period of experience, Jesus tested him, provoking him to yearn for Him further. He said: “Lord Jesus Christ! How I miss You, and long to look upon You. I lack too much, and cannot make up for Your love. I beg You to soon take me away. When will You have need of me? When will You take me away? When will I once again look upon Your face? I do not wish to live any longer in this body, to continue becoming corrupted, and neither do I wish to rebel any further. I am ready to dedicate all I have to You as soon as I can, and I do not wish to sadden You any further.” This is how he prayed, but he did not know at the time what Jesus would perfect in him. During the agony of his test, Jesus appeared to him again and said: “Peter, I wish to make you perfect, such that you become a piece of fruit, one that is the crystallization of My perfection of you, and which I will enjoy. Can you truly testify for Me? Have you done what I ask you to do? Have you lived out the words I have spoken? You once loved Me, but though you loved Me, have you lived Me out? What have you done for Me? You recognize that you are unworthy of My love, but what have you done for Me?” Peter saw that he had done nothing for Jesus and remembered his previous oath to give his life for God. And so, he no longer complained, and his prayers afterward grew much better. He prayed, saying: “Lord Jesus Christ! I once left You, and You too once left me. We have spent time apart, and time together in company. Yet You love me more than all else. I have repeatedly rebelled against You and repeatedly grieved You. How can I forget such things? The work You have done in me and what You have entrusted me with I always bear in mind, I never forget. With the work You have done in me I have tried my best. You know what I can do, and You further know what role I can play. Your wish is my command and I will dedicate everything I have to You. Only You know what I can do for You. Although Satan fooled me so much and I rebelled against You, I believe You do not remember me for those transgressions, that You do not treat me based on them. I wish to dedicate my entire life to You. I ask for nothing, and neither do I have other hopes or plans; I only wish to act according to Your intention and to do Your will. I will drink from Your bitter cup, and I am Yours to command.” and dedicate what he held most precious to God. Then he would be satisfied in his heart. He often prayed to Jesus with the words: “Lord Jesus Christ, I once loved You, but I did not truly love You. Though I said I had faith in You, I never loved You with a true heart. I only looked up to You, adored You, and missed You, but never loved You or truly had faith in You.” He always prayed to make his resolution, he was constantly encouraged by the words of Jesus
You must be clear about the path you walk; you must be clear about the path you will take in future, what it is that God will make perfect, and what has been entrusted upon you. One day, perhaps, you will be tested, and if then you are able to gain inspiration from Peter’s experiences, it will show that you are truly walking Peter’s path. Peter was commended by God for his true faith and love, and for his loyalty to God. And it was for his honesty and longing for God in his heart that God made him perfect. If you truly have the same love and faith as Peter, then Jesus will surely make you perfect.
from The Word Appears in the Flesh
a. The original text reads “by these words.”