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Peter: A Lesson in Leadership

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
July 20, 2022 4:00 am

Peter: A Lesson in Leadership

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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No disciple ever so boldly confesses the lordship of Christ, and no one denies it so boldly as Peter.

He is a constant conundrum. No one is so praised and blessed as Peter, and no one else is called Satan but Peter. He had harder things to say to Peter than he ever said to anybody else, but that was part of making him the man he wanted him to be. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. From what Scripture says about the twelve disciples, no one spoke as much, asked more questions, or was praised as often as Peter. Yet no true follower of Jesus denied him more blatantly or received harsher rebuke from the Lord than, yes, Peter. John MacArthur calls this most visible disciple a contradiction in human flesh. Yet by studying Peter, you see how the Lord turns handicaps into strengths and transforms spiritual babies into focused Christians who make an impact on the world.

You don't get more practical than that, do you? The Master's Men, that's the title of John's current study on Grace to You. And now with a lesson, here's John MacArthur. Matthew chapter 10. We have the happy privilege today of looking at the chapter which details for us the sending of the twelve apostles.

The first in the list is none other than Simon who is called Peter. But first before we look specifically at Peter, some general introductory thoughts that might help us to understand the passage in its context. These twelve introduced to us in the first part of chapter 10 are the foundation of the church. In Ephesians 2.20 it says that the foundation of the church are the prophets and the apostles.

They are the foundation with Christ being the chief cornerstone. They were chosen. It says in verse 1 that He called to Him twelve disciples. They were sent. It says in verse 2 that they are apostles, sent ones.

They started out as learners and they became sent ones after their training was over. They received divine revelation. They were the ones responsible for writing most of the New Testament. They were the ones who were given the mysteries of the New Covenant. They were the ones to whom it was promised that God would bring through His Spirit all things to their remembrance, whatever Jesus had said. They were the ones who received the revelation. They were the ones who wrote it down so that the early church when it met together studied, according to Acts 2, the apostles' doctrine. They were not only the ones who were the foundation in terms of leadership and authority, but they were the source of revelation and they were the framers of the theology. They were given to the church, Ephesians says, to perfect the saints for the work of the ministry that the body might be built up.

They were given to build the body. But it wasn't only what they said that was important, it was what they were. They were the first set of examples, the first patterns for people to look to, to see virtue. They are called, and this is an important title, the holy apostles.

I believe that is a term which indicates the virtue of their life. And so they received revelation. Having received it, they taught it. Having taught it, they codified it, as it were. They framed it into a system of truth and theology.

It then became the substance which the church taught and from which it learned. They also set the pattern of godly, holy, virtuous life. And all of their authority was confirmed by miracle gifts. It says in 2 Corinthians 12 that they had the signs of an apostle which were signs and wonders and mighty deeds. God confirmed them with miraculous powers.

So they were the foundation. And it is essential, I think, for us to see how the Lord works with them and how He disciples them and how He trains them and how He sends them as a pattern for this that we're called to do, discipling others and sending them to reach the world. There were four phases in the training of the Twelve. First He called them to Himself by way of conversion. Find that in John 1.

By way of believing in Him as far as they could believe, as far as they understood. And after they were called to Him to be disciples, to express their faith, there was a second call in which He called them away from their livings, away from their normal concourse, to follow Him every day in a permanent relationship. He called them, if you will, into full-time training. And now in chapter 10 we come to a third phase where He sends them out as interns. This is not their final sending, this is phase 3.

They go out to get their feet wet. They've been instructed for maybe as long as 18 months. They're going to have another period of many months of training, but before that begins, He sends them out. He wants them to experience some things. He wants them to hit the wall a few times.

He wants them to fail as well as succeed. And they go out and they come back and they go out and they come back and He interacts with them in this teaching internship. And then finally the fourth phase comes in Acts 1 when the Spirit of God is sent after the ascension and they then are sent into the whole world to disciple the nations. And so we meet them in phase 3 here in chapter 10. This is their first opportunity to go out on their own. They go two by two and He stays very close to watch and see how they fare and then to teach them off of the experience they're about to have.

They have been trained, now they're going to be sent. He gave them exousia, which means power or authority or the right. And in that divine authority He gave them, they could do two things. They could cast out the vile, evil, wretched, unclean demons and they could heal all manner of disease and all manner of sickness. That was the gift of miracles, which Paul calls the gift of miracles.

It's the gift of dunamis, or power. And if you look at the gospels, it's power against the demons. So He gave them the gift of miracles, He gave them the gift of healing and they went out healing and casting out demons and this was a confirmation of their message. The main thing they did was preach.

Go down to verse 6. Go, it says, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and as you go, preach, saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Their primary task was to preach. But if they came along and preached, why would people want to believe them?

On what basis would people hear their message? The impact came when they did these marvelous works of casting out demons, showing they had power over the kingdom of darkness and then healing showing they had power over disease. And so they went preaching. And while they were preaching, they were healing and they were casting out demons as an affirmation that they were indeed representatives of God.

As Nicodemus had said when Jesus appeared, Nicodemus said, We know that thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do the things you do except God be with him. Now thirdly, we come to their identity...their identity. Who are these twelve who are sent, having been trained and given this tremendous authority? Let's meet them.

Verse 2. The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, another name for Bartholomew is Nathaniel, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector, James the son of Alphaeus and Lebeas whose surname was Thaddeus, Simon the zealot, and Judas Iscariot who also betrayed him. Now frankly, folks, they're just ordinary men. The only one who may have had some special wealth was Matthew, and he gained it by being an extortionist and working for Rome. None of them that we know of had any particular academic background. They aren't the resident PhDs of Galilee. As far as we know, none of them have any social status, not necessarily the highfalutin types, just common people. Some of them are still utterly unknown to us.

All we know is their name. They were chosen from the common people to be the ones who would be the first line of agents of Christ to set in motion the advancement of the kingdom throughout the history of the world. There has been never in the history of the world a task to equal the task these twelve were given.

Never. The most monumental, incredible thing that any man was ever in the history of the world asked to do was to finish the work that Jesus began. Now as you look at the list, there are some fascinating things to learn just from the list itself.

Let me tell you why. It begins this way, the first, Simon, who's called Peter. There are four lists of these disciples in the New Testament, one here in Matthew 10, one in Mark chapter 3, one in Luke chapter 6, and one in Acts chapter 1. Matthew 10, Mark 3, Luke 6 and Acts 1.

Now listen, there are some marvelous similarities in all four lists. Peter's always first. And when Judas is mentioned, he's always what? Last.

That's interesting. Peter is always first. Why was he first? Was he the first one chosen?

No. John 1 makes it clear that he was not the first one chosen. But look at the word there. It says, the first, Simon is called Peter. You have to understand the word there, protos.

That's an interesting word. In this context, it means the foremost in rank. You see, now wait a minute, I thought the twelve apostles all had equal twelve thrones in the kingdom. I thought the twelve apostles were all equal in authority, equal in power, all told to preach, all told to heal, all told to cast out demons. You're right. They'll all sit and judge tribes of Israel.

That's right. Well how come Peter is the foremost? Aren't they all equal? People ask us that all the time when they ask about the eldership of the church. They say, well if you have elders, don't you just have one pastor and he calls all the shots?

How can you have all elders? I mean, are they all equal? Do they all preach and teach? And they're all equal and so forth in every area?

Yes in terms of office, yes in terms of authority, yes in terms of essence, but no in terms of function. Peter was foremost, protos. Let me give you another place where that word is used.

How about this? This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance that Christ came into the world to save sinners, 1 Timothy 1.15, of whom I am...what? Chief, that's the same word. Chief, you could translate it chief. The chief of the twelve was Peter. They had to have a leader and he was their leader. So first thing to note in the list is that they had a leader and there's nothing wrong with that. There are leaders among leaders and their leader was Peter.

Let me take you to a second thought. In all four lists there are three groups. There are three groups.

Group one, are you ready for group one? Peter, Andrew, James and John. Group two begins in verse 3, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew. Then comes group three, James the son of Alphaeus, Lebeas called Thaddeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. listen, each group always has the same four guys in it.

They never get out of their group on all three lists, always the same four. Their names may be in different order, but they're always in the same group. What is also interesting is we know a lot about those in group one, Peter, James, John and Andrew, right? We know a little more about group two, Philip and Nathaniel and Thomas and Matthew. We don't know anything about group three except for Judas and what we know about him we wouldn't care to know. There's a decreasing amount of information.

There's a decreasing intimacy. The first group in it is Peter, James and John who were the most intimate of all. So that in these groups, I think you really get an insight, the Lord was very, very close to group one. He was somewhat close to group two. We don't know that he was close at all to group three.

And that points up a very important factor in leadership. You can't be intimate with everybody. It's impossible.

It's utterly impossible. Our Lord, even out of the four, drew to him three. And out of the three, he spent most of his time with whom? Peter. Frankly, he had to spend most of his time with Peter because he couldn't get Peter off his back. I've always believed that Jesus walked down the road each day and when he stopped, Peter ran into the back of him. I think Peter just trailed him everywhere.

He was forever asking him questions. But there's no way in spiritual leadership that you can have intimacy with everybody. And so the Lord had the close ones and then the next group and then he gave what he could give to the third group. Even though their function was just as important, their ministry was just as wonderful in a sense. You'll notice that the writers, however, of Scripture came out of group one and group two, mostly out of group one. So you learn a little bit about how they function together.

Now let me add another thought. Each of the three groups, the names will be mixed in the group in the different list, but always the first name is the same. In every list, it's first Peter in his group, it's second Philip in his group, and it's third James the son of Alphaeus in his group. And that's always the way it is. You know what that means? That means that even in the individual groups, they had what? Leaders.

Now that's how leadership functions, you see. You have Peter who's sort of chief over everything, and then under him you have the most intimate group, and then you have another group and they have a leader, and another group and they have a leader, and everybody functions. And that's the way it is among the twelve.

And so we gain some insights into that group. When Jesus sent them out, He sent them out first time in their internship two by two, so they went out in their groups of four, only two together. Now there's interesting, I think, insight to look at the fact that they were all so organized, but it was a very comfortable, a very natural kind of thing. I mean, Peter, James, John and Andrew were sort of all interrelated. They were brothers and they knew each other, and they were the fishermen in the group.

So they're probably very close and intimate. The next group, we only know one of them was a tax collector, and it tells us we don't know what Philip did, we don't know what Nathanael did, we don't know what Thomas did. And in the last group, we haven't got any clue about what they did at all. So it's as if that original group all knew each other, they were all the initial ones called, they were all the key ones that the Lord wanted to use, and then there was a sort of a fading away in terms of intimacy, though not importance in apostolic ministry. Now their temperaments were also different, and I just call this to your attention. Peter, for example, was a man of action. He was impulsive, he was eager. I call him the apostle with the foot-shaped mouth. Peter was always sticking his foot in it.

He was always blurting out, charging ahead in a mad hurry. And in his group was another fellow by the name of John. All John wanted to do was be quiet, meditate, contemplate, loving heart, recline on the breast of Jesus. And it must have been interesting in that little group for Peter and John to work together. In the first twelve chapters of Acts, you know, the Lord put John with Peter, which must have been a marvelous lesson for both of them. Peter wanted to charge all the time and saying, John, will you get up and get going? Well, I'm just meditating, Peter.

Boy, that's frustrating when you want to get moving. And then you have in group two, a couple of interesting fellows. There was Nathanael, or Bartholomew. Nathanael believed everything. He accepted the fact, John 1, just wide open, just didn't seem to doubt anything, just willing to receive everything. And in his group was Thomas, who didn't believe anything unless he could see it, touch it, feel it, skeptical. And then you had Matthew, who worked for the Roman government extorting taxes, and you had Simon the Zealot, and a zealot was one who was a radical revolutionary trying to overthrow Rome.

And I can promise you one thing, if Simon had gotten this close to Matthew anywhere but among the disciples, he'd have stuck a knife in him. So you had the political differences. You had the spiritual differences. You had the basic emotional differences and all of this conglomerate of people thrown together and the Lord was going to make something out of this hash to change the world. The wonderful story is that they didn't fail.

They didn't fail. Now for our time, I just want us to look at the first one, Peter, Simon Peter. And I want us to focus on this thought. How does God build a leader? How does God build a leader? Because this guy is the key. The first 12 chapters of Acts revolve around him. He is the key. He preaches the sermon at Pentecost. He does the first great miracle at the temple.

He faces the Sanhedrin. He is the key. And how does God build a leader?

Very important. How does He do this? Because the Lord today is building leaders in His church.

And how does He do that? Peter is really the key to understanding that lesson. The four gospels are literally filled with Peter.

I mean, he's every place. After the name of Jesus, no other name is used as much in the gospels as the name of Peter. Nobody speaks as often as Peter and nobody is spoken to as often as Peter by the Lord. No disciple is so reproved by the Lord as Peter and no disciple reproves the Lord but Peter. No disciple ever so boldly confesses and so outspokenly acknowledges the lordship of Christ and no one denies it so boldly as Peter. He is a constant conundrum. No one is so praised and blessed as Peter and no one else is called Satan but Peter. He had harder things to say to Peter than he ever said to anybody else.

But that was part of making him the man he wanted him to be. Now, how does God take such an ambivalent character, such a contradiction in human flesh and make him a leader? I think there are several elements.

Let me just give you three basically. Number one, you have to have the right raw material, the right raw material. The Lord recognized in Peter the right raw material for leadership. I mean, I'm convinced that Peter was the leader before anybody acknowledged it. I think he just took over.

That's just the way he was. He had whatever it is that is the raw material, the raw stuff of leadership. Now, what is the raw material you look for in a leader? First of all, does he ask questions? Does he ask questions? People who don't ask questions don't wind up as leaders because they're not concerned about problems and solutions. If you want to find a leader, look for somebody who asks questions. In the gospel record, Peter asks more questions than everybody else combined. Always ask questions. It's Peter who asks the meaning of a difficult saying in Matthew 15, 15, Lord, will you explain that to me?

Some of the other guys were just standing there and absolutely didn't understand a thing, just rocked back and forth in their sandals, never even bothered to ask. But Peter can't handle that. He has to ask.

Explain this to me, I've got to know. It was Peter who asked how often he had to forgive. The Lord was talking about forgiveness and he says, how many times am I supposed to forgive? Seven times?

The Lord says, no, 490 times. By the way, in all of his questioning, he rarely got the answer he expected. It was Peter who asked, what is the reward of those who have left all to follow Jesus?

In Matthew chapter 19, now we've left all to follow, what's going to be our reward? I'd like to know. Questions. Peter who asked about the fig tree when it withered away, would you please explain that?

Mark 11. It was Peter who asked the meaning of the things that Jesus said about the approaching end in Mark 13. He wanted a full explanation. And after Peter was told he was going to die as a martyr, he said, well what about John?

The Lord says, it's none of your business if he lives till the second coming. And then the rumor spread throughout the church that John was going to live to the second coming and the Lord had to straighten that out by writing a few extra verses in John 21. He was always asking questions, but that's the raw material that leadership is made out of, see? Leadership seeks solutions.

It asks questions. And the Lord saw that in Peter. There's a second element of leadership that I think is important and that is it takes initiative.

It takes initiative. Leadership always takes initiative and you see that with Peter. When the Lord asks a question, who answers it? Always Peter. Who touched me? Peter answers. Well what do you mean asking a question like that where there's a whole bunch of people pushing you all over here?

I mean, he just took the initiative. Whom do men say that I am? Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Will you go away?

Where are we going to go? Always replying, always taking the initiative. And I would say the third thing that you see in leadership raw material is that they're always where the action is. Always right in the middle of the action. They go through life with a cloud of dust around them. That's just part and parcel of leadership. They create things.

They make it happen. You know what I mean? Of all the disciples, who jumped out of the boat and walked on the water? Peter. People always say, Oh Peter, you have no faith, you sunk. You think Peter had no faith because he sunk?

There's eleven guys who never even got out of the boat. So before you get on Peter's case, realize where he was. People say, Well, Peter denied the Lord. Right, but he was in the place where he was confronted with that because he had enough courage to follow all the way to the house of the high priest. The other guys had split. I mean, he was always in the middle of the action.

He was always where it was going on. And when the resurrection came, who was the first one there? Peter and John. They were down there and Peter just roared past John who stood outside and went right in the place. John, you know, sort of slowed down as he got there and, you know, Peter right on, right in the middle of everything. I think the Lord saw that raw material, that inquisitiveness, that initiators kind of spirit and that being where the action is. It just, it happened when Peter was there.

It just took place. I mean, you see him in the book of Acts for twelve chapters everywhere he goes. Amazing things happen all over the place. That's John MacArthur, chancellor of the Master's University and Seminary with a look at the unique way Christ used Peter despite his many shortcomings and weaknesses and how the Lord can use you too. It's part of John's current series on Grace to You titled The Master's Men. Now, basically this study is about everyday people, people who in God's strength do amazing things.

And John, I know you have a few words for some people we know who are just like that, ordinary men and women who are helping us accomplish something extraordinary. Yeah, how about this extraordinary that you could literally purchase friends for eternity? Just imagine the fact that we as human beings, finite human beings, can purchase friends for eternity. In other words, the Lord is saying that my life and your life can matter to the degree that because of it, somebody is going to be my friend in heaven.

I mean, who has that kind of influence? Paul even said, thinking about that, who is adequate for such things? Whose life could matter that much that your life is a saver of life unto life?

But that, in fact, is true. And what I'm driving at with this is there are many people that will not be known as radio personalities, they'll not be known for any kind of public ministry, but behind the scenes, they are purchasing friends for eternity by their faithfulness to the Lord. And one category of such people are those who support the work of grace to you. You're our partners in every sense, because you make it possible for this teaching to spread across the globe essentially 24-7 across the entire earth nonstop. It could only happen because of the partnership that we have with those who love this ministry, who learn from it, and who support it. And of course, there's no greater joy or more compelling force in my life than to study and proclaim and uphold biblical truth. And God has blessed it and continues to bless it.

He promised he would bless it, it will never return void. We've seen that for over half a century. And I understand that the teacher plays a role in this, but I also understand that it's all the folks who make that teaching available who carry the huge, huge responsibility of reaching people across the face of the earth. This ministry is on a strong footing because of people like that, people like you. And support is very strong. We're thankful for that, as strong as it's ever been, and we want you to know that.

And in the face of claims that today's culture doesn't need or want teaching or doctrine or long sermons, we're seeing exactly the opposite to that. And I simply want to thank you for believing in what we do, for pulling with us as you benefit from the ministry and as you are able. Yes, friend, thank you for helping us take God's Word to people from all walks of life in the United States and Europe and Asia and beyond. To partner with us in this far-reaching ministry, contact us today. You can mail your tax-deductible donation to Grace2U, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412, or call us at 800-55-GRACE. You can also donate online at And remember, supporting your local church comes first.

We always affirm that, but we're grateful for anything you can give after that. Again, to partner with us, call 800-55-GRACE or go to And while you're at the website, be sure to download the Study Bible app. It's a free app that gives you the full text of the Bible in the English Standard, King James, and New American Standard versions. And it also links you to the sermons, blog articles, and other resources that we have on the passages you're studying. It's a quick and convenient source of clear Bible teaching, and it's a great tool for your devotionals. The app, again it's simply called the Study Bible, is free to download from Now for John MacArthur and the staff, I'm Phil Johnson, reminding you to watch Grace2U television this weekend, check our website to see when it airs, and join us tomorrow for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace2U.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-21 21:38:00 / 2023-03-21 21:49:37 / 12

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