Short story on the apostle Peter
by, 03-28-2012 at 07:37 AM (838 Views)
Peter – “Some Results of His Calling”
By Robert Gibson
“Can I come sit by your fire?” a quivering voice asked from the darkness just beyond the circle of light cast by the small fire. The five strangers huddled around it looked at each other. These were uncertain times. A few miles up the road Rome was burning.
Without hesitation Antias replied, “All are welcome here”. He was the one who had started the fire on this cold night and welcomed the others in their turn in similar fashion. He knew the dangers of the road and the chance he was taking but he had been born again. The Holy Ghost he had received by the laying on of hands by the former fisherman calls him to help those who are in need and trust in divine protection.
A girl who looked to be in her early 20’s stepped forward. You could see the trepidation in her eyes. “Thank you. I know it’s hard to trust travelers with what’s been going on. My name is Helen”.
“Come, sit down, have something to eat” invited Antias. “Did you come from the city?”
“Yes, I barely made it out. I’ve never seen or heard of such devastation. The emperor says the fire was started by the Christians. He has order all who claim this Jesus as their Lord to be imprisoned. Some are being crucified as we speak. One of their leaders, a man named Simon Peter, was leaving the city. They say he could have easily escaped but he turned and went back. I have heard the claims these ‘Christians’ make of Jesus of Nazareth—being born of a virgin, being the Son of God, the miracles, and even of his resurrection from the dead! Last week I heard Peter preaching at one of the temples. He claimed to have traveled with Jesus for three years and was witness to all these things that have been spoken about him. Something inside of me longed to believe what he said but it just seems so far fetched. I wish now I had stopped to listen to him more. I’ve always dismissed religious zealots as lunatics. But now I don’t know, my head is spinning. What I don’t understand is the fact that Peter came back. He had to have known what was going to happen to him in the city, he had to have walked past the Christians who were being tortured and crucified. As I was leaving they were hanging him on his own cross. He had been beaten. The guards told him all he had to do to be set free was to denounce his message and deny that Jesus is the Son of God. His reply was ‘crucify me upside down, I’m not worthy to offered the same way as my Lord.” I mean, what are you willing to die for? As I was leaving there was a crowd gathered around his cross. With what breathe he had left he was proclaiming the love of a God who had spared not his own son but sent him to be a sacrifice for the sins of mankind and that if we would simply believe we could be reconciled to Him and have eternal life. I don’t know if Nero thought this was the way to destroy the Christian movement or not but I do know it’s doing nothing but fanning the fire. It’s not just Peter, none of those being killed are denying their Lord. In the face of death, whether by the cross, beheading, being fed to wild beasts, all are proclaiming the love of God. Their gospel is spreading faster than the fires that are burning in Rome.”
“I am a Christian and I knew Simon Peter before he was ever called by Christ” said Antias. “We were both fishermen and he kept his boat in the dock beside mine. Even then he was an interesting person. He seemed full of contradictions. He was the loudest and opinionated person I’ve ever been around, the first to speak and the last to think. You would expect someone like that to be arrogant and selfish but he was also humble and always willingly to help those in need. He would abandon a catch to go help a boat that was in need. He really understood the importance of taking care of each other.
“It still surprised me the day he left. He and his family were fiercely Jewish but he loved the sea. He was the first one there every day and his boat always stayed out the longest. Most established boat owners would pay the boys to mend their nets but not Peter. He loved every aspect of fishing. His boat had belonged to his father and his father’s father. On the day his brother Andrew came and said ‘we have found the Messiah’ he left it all. He didn’t even look back as he left.
“The other fishermen began to take bets on when he would come back. He had left his nets and tackle out like he was soon to return but after a few days his bait and the great draught of fish he had caught began to rot and I knew I’d never see him again.
“I was wrong about that. I did see him again, almost three and a half years later. I was in Jerusalem trying to make contacts with some prospective customers when I saw a large crowd gathered around a few men. I recognized the voice of the man who was preaching about the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and decided to wait until the excitement died down so I could get a chance to talk to my old friend after the crowd lost interest and left. After a few minutes I noticed something strange. Looking over the crowd I saw people from every nation, tongue, and kindred. There were people from Judea, Cyprus, Rome, Ethiopia…and we all understood what Peter was saying! Each one was hearing this “Good News” in his own language! As my eyes met those in the crowd I could see by the look on their faces they had realized this as well.
“It’s then I began to listen to his message. Helen, I was like you, I had heard about the miracles and teachings of Jesus. As soon as I arrived in Jerusalem I had heard about his death and crucifixion but the message I heard that day was vastly different from the gossip and whispers I heard on the streets. This message went forth with power, power from on high. As he spoke I realized that I was a sinner, that I had failed God and needed a Savior. Men began to ask Peter, ‘what must we do to be saved?’ He replied, ‘all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’ That’s when I gave my heart to the Lord. I couldn’t get to Peter then, the crowd just grew bigger with the outpouring of the Spirit. I found him a few days later and was baptized and received the Holy Spirit by his hands. If God can make something of an uneducated fishermen like Peter, then He can make something out of me.”
When Antias finished another member of the circle spoke up. He was an old man and looked like he had had a hard life, but there was a gleam in his eye as he spoke. “I am called Jappath and I, too, am a Christian.” His voice cracked with emotion as he continued. “I am from a poor town called Bethsaida. There is very little water for crops, not much can grow there. We had heard of Jesus of Nazareth before he ever arrived in our region. We are a poor people and our needs were great. No doctors would come to us so we had many sick. We had no money to pay the teachers from the temple so they never made the trip from Jerusalem. Jesus’ teachings were hard to understand but he offered something we hadn’t dared dream of in ages…he offered us hope. He said ‘a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things he possesses.’ For that I was glad of that, because I had nothing. He healed our sick. To this day I can still see the compassion in his eyes as he looked upon us. Greater than the healings, however, we desired to hear his teachings! We followed him out into the desert and he began to reveal to us the way to God. As he finished his disciples gathered around him and began a discussion. I was close enough to hear that they were trying to convince him to send us away since suppertime was upon us. Jesus didn’t want to turn us away. He asked where they could buy bread for us all. No one had any money and no one had any food. Finally, Peter’s brother, Andrew, brought to Jesus a child who was willing to share his lunch of five loaves of bread and two fish, but what were they among so many? Jesus told us all to sit and he blessed the meal. I tried to get to the front of the line because I was hungry and didn’t walk very well. I didn’t know if I could make it back to the city without eating. As he began to pass out the bread I began to worry. He wasn’t giving out a small portion to each, it looked like he was giving half a loaf to everyone! I knew there wouldn’t be enough for me. I don’t know how long we stood in that line until we realized we were witnessing a miracle. The food never ran out. There was enough for everyone!
“Eventually we were sent away. I overheard Jesus tell his disciples to get in a boat and go over the sea to the other side. He was going off alone to pray and would meet them. A few others and myself decided to follow them in another boat. We just needed to be close to this man! We waited until they left then we got into another boat. I was tired and soon fell asleep. I awoke in the worst storm I have ever seen. Unlike you, Antias, I am not a seafaring man and I was terribly afraid. The disciples boat was close enough to be seen when we were on the crest of the waves. Everyone on their boat, as was on ours, was trying to keep the boat heading into the waves or bailing water to keep from sinking. There wasn’t much I could do to help. As I looked, I could see the disciples were pointing to something in the water. I clung to the side of the ship and could see what they were pointing at. Jesus was walking on the water! The violent winds, waves, and rain didn’t trouble him! I just knew it was the master. You might say ‘but it’s impossible for a man to walk on water’. I would agree with you but I had already witnessed him do the impossible by healing the sick and feeding thousands.
“This Peter you two speak of, he cupped his hands up to his mouth like he was shouting to Jesus. I couldn’t hear what he was saying over the wind but, Antias, you say he was brash? I believe you, because he jumped over the side of the boat and he, too, began walking on the water, straight for Jesus. Halfway there he took his eyes off Christ and began to look at the waves and the storm. I could see the look of fear on his face before he began to sink. I will say this for him, as soon as he realized he was sinking he cried ‘Lord Save Me!’ More prideful men may have tried to swim back to the boat on their own strength and only cry out when all else has failed. But Peter was quick to pray for help. Do you know what he got? He got help! Jesus took him by the hand and immediately the storm ceased. We all quivered in fear. Even the wind and the sea were subject to his power! I humbled myself then just as Peter had and knew in my heart that Jesus was the Son of the living God.”
Another member of the circle began to stir. Marcus hadn’t said much since he took his seat by the fire. The others had kept their distance from him. He looked to be the type to avoid on dark streets late at night. “I was in the palace the night they crucified Jesus” Marcus began. “It was crowded that evening. Most of the people there were waiting to hear about what would become of the one they began to call ‘Christ’. I was just there for the money. I was a beggar. I was in my regular spot close by a fire. In many ways it was a lot like how we are here right now. Strangers gathered together, all talking about Jesus of Nazareth. I hated my life and my misery. Bitterness of my lot in life ate at my soul. I was so low that the thought of another man (Jesus) having more troubles than me made me happy, especially if he truly was innocent like everyone was saying. Life wasn’t fair. I didn’t deserve to be what I had become.
“As people began to gather around us, my attention was drawn to a conversation that evidently had been going on for quit a while.
‘You are one of Jesus’ followers! I’ve seen you with him!’ a girl said to a man who was warming himself by the fire.
‘You are mistaken’ the man replied. He pulled his hood up over his face and knelt down, like he was intent on hiding. His voice shook as he spoke. He was nervous, and he was lying, that much was obvious.
“Another man spoke up, ‘no, she’s right, you are with him. You accent gives you away, you’re definitely from Galilee’.
“The nervous man stood up and cursed them. ‘I told you! I’m not with him, I’m not one of his disciples, I don’t even know him!’
“As he said this the man turned to walk away, looking up at the porch he meet the gaze of the one whom he just denied. The man began weeping bitterly and threw people out of his way as he tried to outrun his shame and humiliation.
“I thought to myself, ‘it will be a wonder if that man doesn’t go out and hang himself.’
“A few months later I was begging at the temple, at the Beautiful Gate. I was tired as I lay there. Without even looking up I would shout out ‘alms for the poor?’ to those who passed by. Two men stopped, I looked up hoping to receive something. The nervous man who had denied his friend stood before me. He was no longer nervous, he had a sense of authority as he said, ‘I don’t have any silver or gold, but what I do have I’ll give to you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth stand up and walk.’ You see I was a beggar because I had been born lame. My legs were misshapen and I had to rely on the generosity of others. I stood up and felt strength come into my legs! Praise be to God I had been made whole! I looked into the face of Peter and said ‘who is this Jesus of Nazareth?’ He then shared with me the gospel message. If Jesus could forgive this man, who denied even knowing him, then he could forgive me. I repented of my sins that day and gave my heart to the Lord. Helen, you say Peter is being put to death? That saddens me but I know that I’ll see him again when I enter into God’s Heavenly Kingdom.”
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”