How Peter Came to Know Jesus
During the time Peter spent with Jesus, he saw many lovable characteristics in Jesus, many aspects worthy of emulation, and many aspects which supplied him. Although Peter saw the being of God in Jesus in many ways, and saw many lovable qualities, he did not know Jesus at first. Peter began following Jesus when he was 20 years old, and he continued to follow Him for six years. During that time, he never came to know Jesus; Peter was willing to follow Jesus purely out of admiration for Him. When Jesus first called to him on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, He asked: “Simon Barjona, 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 Holy Spirit. I will follow You.” At the time, Peter had already heard of a man named Jesus—the greatest of the prophets and God’s beloved Son—and Peter had been constantly hoping to find Him and hoping for a chance to see Him (because that is how he was being led by the Holy Spirit). Although Peter 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 of a man called Peter, yet it was not the Holy Spirit who instructed Him: “Go to the Sea of Galilee, where there is one called Simon Barjona.” Jesus had heard someone say that there was one called Simon Barjona, 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 to the Sea of Galilee; when Peter accepted Jesus’ call, he followed Him.
During his time following Jesus, Peter formed many opinions of Him and always judged Him from his own perspective. Although Peter had a certain degree of understanding of the Spirit, his understanding was somewhat unclear, which is why 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 lacked clarity about them. After following Him for some time, Peter 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 aid. During 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 Peter saw and gained things he had never before seen nor possessed from Jesus. He saw that although Jesus had neither a grand stature nor any 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 differently from everyone else, for the things He did were very different from that of ordinary men. From his time in contact with Jesus, Peter also saw 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 He conducted His life in a way that revealed a character which was both normal and admirable. In conversation, Jesus spoke plainly and with grace, communicating always in a cheerful yet serene manner—and yet never did He lose His dignity while carrying out His work. Peter saw that Jesus was sometimes taciturn, while other times He spoke incessantly. Sometimes He was so happy that He appeared like a frisking and frolicking dove, and other times He was so sad that He did not talk at all, appearing laden with grief as though He were a worn and weary mother. At times He was filled with anger like a brave soldier charging off to kill an enemy or, on some occasions, He even resembled 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 with happiness, His sorrow plunged him into grief, His anger frightened him, while His mercy, forgiveness, and the strict demands He made of people made him come to truly love Jesus and develop a true reverence and longing for Him. Of course, it was not until after Peter had lived alongside Jesus for a number of years that he gradually came to realize all of this.
Peter was a particularly sensible man, born with natural intelligence, yet he did 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 years old and started 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 an 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 to this 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. When Jesus was in His 30th year, He told Peter of His impending crucifixion and that He had come to do a stage of work—the work of crucifixion—to redeem all mankind. Jesus also told Peter that three days after the crucifixion, the Son of man would rise again, and that once risen, He would appear to the people for 40 days. Upon hearing these words, Peter was sad and took these words to heart; from then on, he grew ever closer to Jesus. 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. It was then that 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, and she 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 knowledge in excess of Yours; 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 and 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, Peter 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 it, but He did not speak or sit down to eat. Instead, He suddenly vanished. This was an enormous shock to Peter, and only then did he understand that Jesus resurrected was different from the Jesus of before. Once he realized this, Peter was grieved, but he also gained comfort from knowing that[a] the Lord had completed His work. He knew that Jesus had completed His work, 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 of the bitter cup from which I have drunk (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 particularly hidden, and Peter suffered through much hardship. Sometimes, Peter reached 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 know men’s hearts’ desire. And even though the bodies of men do not meet with Your acceptance, I wish for You to accept my heart.” Uttering prayers like this gave him encouragement, especially when he prayed: “I’m willing to dedicate my heart wholly to God. Even though I’m unable to do anything for God, I’m willing to 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 Lord Jesus for so long, yet I never loved Him; that is my biggest debt. Even though I stayed with Him, I did not know Him, and I even said some inappropriate things 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 still gave him encouragement within. And one time, Jesus appeared to Peter. When Peter was in tremendous suffering and felt that 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 fulfill your duty.” Hearing that he would be able to return to God’s side gave Peter comfort. At that time, Peter was in such agony that he was almost bedridden; he felt remorse to the point of saying: “I am so corrupted that I am unable 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?” Seeing that it was Jesus, Peter rose from his bed, and Jesus comforted him thus: “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 from then on, he was inspired. Jesus specially appeared to him at every key moment, giving him special enlightenment and guidance, and He did much work on him. And what did Peter regret the most? Not long after Peter had said “You are the Son of the living God,” Jesus posited another question to Peter (although it is not recorded in the Bible this way). Jesus asked him: “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 what he had been lacking. 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 these words. Recalling his past work and his present stature, he would often come before Jesus in prayer, always feeling regret and indebted due to having not met God’s will 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, and 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 told Peter: “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 really forgotten? I have told you twice, do you not remember?” Hearing this, Peter 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 creations 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 I entrusted to you. 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 past 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 a fishing boat together with Jesus, and Peter asked Jesus a very naive question: “Lord! I would like to ask You a question which I have had for a very long time.” 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 the doing of Jehovah and Moses.” 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 had no understanding at the time, Jesus didn’t say anything else or directly refute him. Once Jesus gave a sermon in a synagogue where many people were present, including Peter. In His sermon, Jesus said: “The One who 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 the Age 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.” Hearing these words had somewhat of an effect on Peter, and throughout 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 back to what Jesus had preached on that day and the question he had asked Jesus when they were on the fishing boat, the response Jesus had given, as well as how He had smiled, Peter finally came to an understanding about it all. Afterward, the Holy Spirit enlightened Peter, and only then 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; no one else 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 specimen 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? You too must experience what Peter experienced; the fruits Peter gained from his experiences must also be manifested in you; and you too must experience the pain that Peter experienced. 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 one is made perfect by following it. However, your caliber is somewhat lacking in comparison to that of Peter, for times have changed, and so too has the extent of corruption of men, and because Judea was a long-standing kingdom with an ancient culture. Hence, you must do all that you can to improve your caliber.
Peter was a very sensible person, astute in everything he did, and he was also extremely honest. He suffered many setbacks. His first contact with society came at the age of 14, when he attended school and also went 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 saw the chaos behind the scenes of religion, he retreated from it. Seeing how crafty, cunning, and scheming 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 on him), and so he withdrew from the synagogue at the age of 18. His parents persecuted him and would not let him believe (they were devils and nonbelievers). Finally, Peter left home and traveled everywhere, fishing and preaching for two years, during which time he also led quite a few people. Now you should be able to clearly see the precise path that Peter took. If you can clearly see Peter’s path, then you will be certain about the work being done today, so you will 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 blessings. He did not seek profit, happiness, fame, or fortune in the world; he only sought to live the most meaningful life, which was to repay God’s love 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 never truly loved 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 I never loved You nor truly had faith in You.” He constantly prayed to make his resolution, and he was always encouraged by the words of Jesus and drew motivation from them. 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, nor 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 to God. And so, he no longer complained, and his prayers from then on 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? I am always bearing in mind and never forget the work You have done on me and what You have entrusted me with. I have done everything that I can for the work You have done on me. 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 and 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.”
You must be clear about the path you walk; you must be clear about the path you will take in the future, what it is that God will make perfect, and what has been entrusted to you. One day, perhaps, you will be tested and, when that time comes, if you are able to draw 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.
a. The original text reads “from the fact that.”