The first man was enthusiastic, well intentioned, and bold but often lacked insight and faith. He publically denied knowing Christ. He was so brash and impulsive that he once attacked and severely injured someone with a deadly weapon. Even after coming to know the Lord, on one occasion he was so scared and had such a crisis of faith that he almost died. Later after entering ministry he fell into theological error and had to be privately and even publically corrected by another church leader.
The second man, however, became a major figure in his church. He preached such powerful sermons that even one of his earliest messages led to three thousand conversions in one day. He wrote theological masterpieces still studied in the church to this day. A martyr of the first order, after being arrested for his preaching and sentenced to death by the dictatorial government, he insisted on being crucified upside down as he felt unworthy to die in the same manner which his Lord died.
Peter at times was presumptuous, slow to comprehend, cowardly, timid, arrogant, lacking faith, and even blasphemous. And what man isn’t all of these at some time in his life? So far, he sounds a lot like me. But by the time God was done with him, after pouring out his Holy Spirit on him, after teaching him and illuminating truth in his heart and mind, and after progressively and continually sanctifying him, Peter became someone willing and able to do great things for God. This same Peter became bold, courageous, teachable, insightful, immovable, faithful, self-sacrificing, and a true leader of his people and of his church. This Peter sounds more like a man I can only hope and strive to be.
So how did Peter transform from such a typical, flawed man into such an effective and bold leader of the church? The early Jewish leaders were wondering the same thing after they arrested Peter and John for preaching of Christ. After hearing Peter, "filled with the Holy Spirit", answer their charges, they reached this conclusion in Acts 4:13;
"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”