You asked me about my time with Jesus. So, here is a quick answer to your request. There is more detailed information in the Scriptures, but I thought I would share with you some of my thoughts.
We walked shoulder to shoulder with Him. It was a journey of a lifetime although it was only three years. What was it like? Did we believe He was the Messiah?
Sure we did, but at first, it was our version of the Messiah. You know the one who would free us from the Roman yoke and lead us victoriously to defeat all our enemies. We thought the Messiah would be a man God raised up as in the days of the Judges, and when we had great kings like David. We were looking for one who would rule over and deliver us from the Romans.
We should have known He was more than that. We missed so many clues.
I remember when he called me to be a fisher of men. I got up and followed him. No questions asked! I didn’t consult anyone about it, not even my wife. I just did it. Maybe, you can understand, I was compelled to leave all and follow Him. I had no choice.
Then there was the first miracle. When He turned the water into wine at the wedding, we all gaped! We were amazed – there is no other word for it – amazed. After that there was miracle after miracle …so many. You can’t imagine what it was like seeing desperately sick and dying people coming to Him, some dragging themselves with their last bit of strength, some were carried, and He went to some. All received His compassion and mercy. I saw the lame walk, the blind see, the demon possessed freed, and even the dead raised!
But, it wasn’t until He asked me, “Whom do you say that I am?” that I knew, really knew. He’d asked us who other people said He was. We told Him people thought some pretty wild things, like John the Baptist back from the dead, or one of the prophets. Then He looked directly at me and asked that famous question, one we all have to answer at some time, “Whom do you say that I am?”
My answer came effortlessly, but with great light and conviction.
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
It was as though I wasn’t answering, but someone else. Jesus told me God the Father revealed that to me. I knew then that this was no mortal man. This man I had walked shoulder to shoulder with, shared campfires with, even had in my home on many occasions, who had healed my mother-in-law was not just a good man, a gifted teacher, He was who He said He was – the Son of God!
It was after that change of heart that I began to notice that He never did anything wrong. The anger we saw in Him was justified anger. The Pharisees made Him angry and He made them angry! I have to admit sometimes I was afraid of them and then other times I wanted to jump them and beat them up. Of course, Jesus wouldn’t have liked that. You see, my anger was not righteous as His was. It was right to be angry with them, but my anger was selfish and vengeful. It was confusing sometimes because I knew the few times He was angry He wasn’t sinning, but when I got angry, I was. But, it was more than that. He was never irritable, He never complained, He was never mean, or bitter, or unhappy. In fact, there was always this deep-seated joy in Him. He kept telling us we would have His joy. We didn’t understand until later what He meant. So, what I am trying to say is He never sinned. I have looked back over my entire time with Him and there wasn’t once I could say He did anything that was sinful. His mother, who should know, said the same thing. Of course, He had to be sinless to die for our sins. He was the God-man without sin. I kept hoping it would rub off on me. But, you know, it didn’t.
He was so good to me, so patient and I … I deserted Him. When I should have stood by Him, I ran out on Him. And even worse I denounced Him to others. He told me I would, but I didn’t believe Him. Oh no, not me, maybe others, but not Peter! He told me before the rooster crows I would deny Him three times. I did and when I heard the condemning sound … well, I can’t tell you how I felt … there are no words. If I hadn’t been such a coward, I would have cut out my own tongue right then.
We thought it was over. Our dream of freedom from Rome – gone. You see our unbelief? He had told us what would happen, that He would be killed, buried and on the third day He would rise again. He had plainly told us. Even when John and I went to the tomb and found it empty, not only empty, but His grave clothes neatly folded – it was too much to comprehend. I think John understood before I did. The women saw Him. He appeared to them first and not me. I had a hard time with that, but then the memory of my betrayal would come rushing in on me and I thought if He is alive, I am the last person He would want to see. I had forgotten the Messiah’s forgiveness. I had lived with it for three years, yet my sin and guilt was so overpowering, I forgot His compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. Or maybe, I don’t know, maybe, I thought my sin was too great for Him to forgive. Maybe, I thought I had crossed the line, that all I deserved was hell.
After the resurrection, when I saw Him on the beach – the risen Lord, what was He doing? Cooking us breakfast – still serving us. I was trembling. I longed to have Him turn His pure, sinless eyes upon me, to clasp me as a brother once more, but I was so terrified until He said, “Peter”. There it was. I knew I had been washed by His blood. Those drops that fell in Gethsemane and were shed at Calvary were for me and all my horrendous sins were forgiven. But then, He kept asking me if I loved Him. What could I say? Oh I did love Him, but not like I should. Would I betray Him again? I hoped not, but I was no longer the self-sufficient, self-confident braggart that I had been. I knew only by His power could I be obedient and faithful. I told Him I loved Him, but only He knew how much. And then He said the last thing I expected. He said, “Feed my sheep.” Me, the betrayer, He gave the awesome duty of feeding His sheep.
So, I am about His business by His grace and for His glory.
What was it like being with Him for three years? If you are His follower you know. You don’t need me to tell you.