I have been writing this post in my mind all week and I must tell you that I am feeling rather passionate about it, which means that it may be wordy and disjointed, but I hope I will be able to convey the message that I feel compelled to share.
The Apostle Peter is one of my favorite men of the Bible. I am sure that I am not alone in finding my connection to Peter in my own impulsive nature. When I was a kid, my Daddy loved to tell me that I should put my brain in gear before putting my mouth in motion. A skill I still haven’t mastered, by the way. But, it isn’t only Peter’s tendency to be a hothead that draws me to him. It is his sin.
If Peter had not spoken so arrogantly about his devotion to Jesus, and if Peter had not failed Jesus so completely, we would have missed out on a beautiful picture of forgiveness and restoration. You know what I am talking about … Peter told Jesus that he would go anywhere with Him, even if it meant his own death. Jesus then told Peter of the failure that he would experience.
I have tried to imagine what Peter must have felt that moment. Was he afraid or confused or just confident that he wouldn’t fail? I wonder if he felt as I sometimes do when faced with temptation and find my self thinking, it’s okay, I can handle it this time, I won’t fail this time …
And I imagine you know the rest of the story. Just as Jesus had told him, three times Peter denied knowing the Man he had pledged to defend to the death.
And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. Luke 22:61-62(KJV)
It is at this point that I feel so connected to Peter. Times when I have emphatically said to Jesus, “no, I won’t do that (AGAIN), I am with you, you can count on me not to make that mistake …” and then before I know it the cock is crowing and Jesus is looking at me and I am looking for a rock to crawl under.
But, Jesus didn’t leave Peter in his guilt and shame. He came to him and restored the relationship. Peter denied Jesus three times and three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. I know that the Bible indicates that Peter was frustrated by Jesus’ repeated question, but for me, this picture gives me great comfort.
If Jesus didn’t give up on Peter, I have hope. I repeatedly make the same mistakes and feel so hopeless, just as Peter must have felt when he failed Jesus and then had to watch Him die. In my guilt I sometimes wonder at what point I will cross the line and Jesus will tell me, “okay, I’m tired of forgiving you for this or for that, you are own your own now.”
And then I remember Peter and I see how powerfully God used him even after he denied being associated with Jesus. I think about Peter and I am amazed by grace. And I am strengthened to continue this journey, accepting the forgiveness offered and praying that God will use me for His glory.
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