Leaping before you look: the ‘Peter’ Spirit

by Lester Young

Of course, the warning we’re all familiar with is “Look before you leap”; which simply means to cautiously and thoroughly consider what you plan to do before you actually do it. Sounds like good, solid, reasonable advice we’d all do well to bear in mind. But there was once this one guy in particular – and he just happened to be one of the higher-ups of Jesus’ staff – who developed a bit of a reputation for doing just the opposite. Let’s take a look at the Apostle Peter for a few moments.

If we examine the various accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts that involve Peter; we begin to notice he had sort of a “shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later” personality. He probably didn’t do a whole lot of ‘pre-thinking’ before opening his mouth, blurting out whatever came to mind. He also seemed to step right into potentially hazardous situations without much contemplation. But although such qualities can most certainly be unwise and even detrimental at times, I’m in no way putting Peter down for them. Indeed, quite the contrary.

The Bible calls Peter the “first” apostle, although he was not actually the first one called by Jesus. His brother Andrew was called before him (John 1:40-42). Peter is identified as the “first” because he was the ‘head’ or ‘lead’ apostle: that is, Jesus’ right-hand man, so to speak. Why? Because Peter had a boldness about him. He was a leader: he had no difficulty with being the first one to say or do something. He had the gumption (or the ‘simplicity’ – you’re free to decide for yourself which one) to boldly step out on just the Lord’s Word alone, as when he got out of the boat in a storm and walked on the water to go to Jesus! (Matthew 14:24-29) When asked his opinion, he boldly spoke right up and proclaimed in no uncertain terms exactly Who Jesus was (Matthew 16:13-16). In his Lord’s hour of intense distress, he boldly asserted that he was willing to die right alongside Jesus (Matthew 26:33-35). And when they both ran to see the Lord’s empty tomb on Resurrection day, as John timidly bent down and peeped inside, Peter boldly bounded right into the place to check out what was going on! (John 20:3-8)

Now did Peter have a well-intentioned heart? Absolutely, he did. Did he mean every word he said? Absolutely, he did. Did he fail spectacularly and fall short, on more than one occasion? Absolutely, he did (Matthew 14:30, 26:69-75). Did Jesus ever once condemn him? Absolutely not.

As a matter of fact, an angel told the women who’d come to Jesus’ tomb to go back and declare the news of His resurrection to His disciples and, specifically, to Peter (Mark 16:6-7). The Lord knew Peter was in deep, crushing self-condemnation because of his back-to-back-to-back denials. But He also knew He wasn’t anywhere close to being done with Peter. As flawed as he was (and who, by the way – other than Jesus – isn’t?), Peter had a track record of boldly stepping out in faith, even if he did mess things up afterward. And courageously stepping out in faith is very precious to God: He can work with a person like that (Hebrews 10:35, 38). And He did (Acts 4:13).

Leaping before you look can be a good thing if you’re walking by faith in the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:7, 4:18). That’s because contemplating circumstances which seem to be against God’s Word and your success might cause you to pull back in fear and disobedience (Numbers 13:27-33). So courageously step out in faith. That’s very precious to God: He can work with a person like that. And He will (Hebrews 10:39). Be bold! Follow the Holy Spirit wherever He leads, regardless of the consequences: because, regardless of the consequences, you’re safe and blessed if you’re with Him. Even if it’s out on the water without a boat.


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