John tells us that Peter was called by Christ through the preaching of John the Baptist, who bore witness that Jesus was Christ, the Messiah (John 1:37). Matthew, on the other hand, tells us that Peter and his brother were fishing, that Christ was walking by the lake of Galilee, and that as He passed by He saw these men fishing, called them by name, and said, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:18-19). Now, the key to the whole may be found in the fact that there was yet a third call, and that afterwards Jesus called not Peter and Andrew alone, but the whole twelve of His disciples and set them apart to be Apostles (Matthew 10:1-2).
And so we gather from this last call that the other two might have been different and distinct from each other. Coming to look at the subject we find that the first call was the call at Peter’s conversion, which called him to be a disciple while still at his daily work as a fisherman. The second was the call of Peter, not to be a mere disciple, but to be an evangelist. And the third was the call of Peter, not to be an Evangelist or a common servant of the Master, but to be a leader, to take a yet higher grade, and to become one of the Twelve who should be associated with Christ as the founders of the new system of religion and witnesses of the life of Christ Himself.
I want you, then, just for a moment, to bear in mind the three calls:
- The first is that which Christ gave to Peter when He called him out of darkness into marvelous light, blessing to him at first the testimony of John, and then by manifesting Himself to him.
- The second is the call by which the servant, already converted, already willing, is bid to put himself into closer relationship with his Lord—to come out and be no longer a servant whose allegiance is true but not manifest—but to show that fealty by following his Master.
- And the third call is that which the Savior gives only to a few whom He has picked out and chosen to do some special work—who shall have fellowship with Him more closely still.
Adapted from Spurgeon's Sermons, Peter’s Three Calls (No. 702), by Charles Spurgeon.