The Conversion of Peter


When was Peter converted?

Introduction: Peter is a man for whom I have a great respect and admiration. I say this because to me he appears to be every disciple. He possesses weaknesses as everyone else does. But in spite of these weaknesses, he accomplished great things. Before he could do those things, there was a process of conversion he had to go through. We can learn much from Peter's life. So, this morning I poise the question, "When was Peter converted?" I would like for us to start with Luke 22:31-32.

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

The word converted means to 'turn to'. This implies that there had to be something to turn away from. Jesus, then, was telling Peter before he could be of service to God or his fellow man, he had to turn to God and away from something. We find an example of the process I am describing in 1 Thess. 1:9.

For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

The Greek word used for turning here is the same as the word used for converted in Luke 22:32. So, in this case, the Christians in Thessalonica turn from idolatry to God. If we take a look back at Peter's life, I believe we can discover what Peter had to turn from, and what the process entailed.

1. Peter's knowledge of Jesus

A) Peter met Jesus for the first time in Matt. 4:18.

Mt 4:18-20 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

It is important to note, Peter and Andrew knew who Jesus was immediately. There was no hesitation in dropping what they were doing and following after Christ.

B) Again, in Matt. 16:16, Peter shows he recognizes Jesus' position and authority. Jesus asks in verse 15 who the disciples thought he was.

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. :17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Here Peter recognizes Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus states this was revealed to him by God. Whatever weakness Peter shows later cannot be attributed to a lack of knowledge of who Jesus was.

2. Peter's pride showing

A) Mark 8:31-33 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.

I believe this to be pride speaking. Peter had this image of a Christ who was going to come and return Israel to world prominence. He wanted Israel powerful and delivered from the bondage of being ruled by another country. Anyone who differed with him on the scriptures concerning this had to be wrong.

B) The problem with pride in Christianity. Matt. 14:28-31 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the problems around him because he had been counting on himself first. When he saw the waves about him his reaction was, "I can't do this". And, he was right. By himself, he couldn't do it.
This attitude led to the denial we find in Luke 22:33-34. These are the very next verses after Jesus told Peter Satan requested him.

Luke 22:33-34 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

3. The visible change in Peter.

A) After Peter denied Christ and realized what he had done, he went out and wept bitterly. His reaction to what he had done shows repentance, contrition, and a humbling of his spirit. His heart was broken. I'm not sure if one event is what converted Peter or a series of events from his denial until Jesus' resurrection. But, I do know that we can see a significant change in Peter from before until after the crucifixion and resurrection. Before his denial, his was self focused and fearful of his life. After, he focused on God's will for him and stood publicly and proclaimed Jesus as the Christ and himself as His servant.

4. The process of a broken and contrite spirit. Psalms 51

A) He prays earnestly for the pardon of his sin v. 1, 2

Luke 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

B) He confesses his sin v. 3

Luke 15:18-21 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

C) The inner man v.6

1 Peter 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

5. Conclusion: Psalms 32 We have here a summary,

A) Blessings for those who seek God's forgiveness v. 1, 2

B) The process we go through to reach that forgiveness v. 3-11

We can see the change in Peter. We can see the events that brought it about. Can we examine ourselves and do the same. Have you ever felt the remorse David felt in Psalms 51? Have you acknowledged your sins to God and plead for forgiveness? Have you yet offered God a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart?

If you have, you should be able to go back and show when your life changed...can you? For some, the change is a dramatic one time event. For others, it takes more time. But, the end result is always the same...visible, verifiable change.