Our sin does not define us. Peter was chosen by Jesus to be in His inner circle, one of the 12 disciples. He knew Jesus intimately and loved Him deeply. Jesus asked the disciples who they thought He was and in Matthew 16:16 Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter was with Jesus when He healed and performed miracles. Jesus told the disciples that He was going to suffer, be killed and on the third day rise again (Matthew 16:21). Peter was with Jesus at The Last Supper (Matthew 26:17-30) and was told by Jesus that he would disown Him that same night, not once but three times. As recorded in Matthew 25:31-35, Peter declared in front of all the disciples, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”
No matter where we are on our journey with Jesus: far from Him, investigating who He is, accepting Him as Savior and going your own way or knowing and living a life with God’s mission as yours, at some point we have denied knowing Him. Saying, “I believe in God” or “I am a Christian” or “I go to church” is easy. But saying “I know Jesus”, at times feels like a risk. God gives me opportunities to share who He is with others and sometimes I deny God by simply saying nothing. Other times my actions don’t reflect that I know Jesus.
Before telling Peter of his upcoming denial, Jesus said in Luke 22:32, “But I have prayed for you, Simon (Peter), that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus had a plan of leadership for Peter’s life and didn’t want sin to get in the way of him living it out. There is a song by Unspoken called “Who You Are” that I love. My favorite lines from the song are:
“So let the ashes fall wherever they land, come back from wherever you’ve been. To the foot of the cross, to the feet of Jesus. The feet of Jesus.
You can never fall too hard, so fast, so far that you can’t get back when you’re lost where you are.It’s never too late so bad, so much that you can’t change”.
Luke tells about Peter’s denial in such a detailed way that I can visualize the scene in Luke 22:54-62. When Jesus was arrested and taken to the house of the high priest, “Peter followed at a distance.” In the courtyard, there were people standing and sitting around a fire to keep warm. Peter went and sat down among them. The flames illuminated his face and the first to recognize him was a servant girl. Peter responded, “Woman, I don’t know Him.” He stayed by the fire keeping warm when a man recognized him as one of the disciples, but Peter answered, “Man, I am not!” About an hour later another man asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” At this point Peter gets angry and in Matthew 26:74 it says, “He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Jesus told Peter he would hear the rooster crow three times, and when it did “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.” (Luke 22:61) Then Peter remembered what Jesus said earlier that night. His response was that he “wept bitterly”.
Can you imagine how that hurt Jesus’ heart when Peter denied Him? Have you experienced betrayal by another? It pierces the soul. Peter was wrecked to his core when he realized he rejected Jesus.
There is beauty in this situation with Peter, the same beauty offered to us by Jesus. Jesus went to the cross and died for the very sin Peter committed and did the same for all people. After three days, Jesus defeated death, rose from the dead and spent time with the disciples.
When Jesus saw Peter, He asked three times “Do you love me?” (John 15:17). I bet there was healing in Peter’s heart knowing Jesus forgave him. We are offered the same blessing of grace from Jesus. God used our friend Peter to build the early church and many people followed Jesus because of Peter’s leadership and teaching. God wants to use you to bring people closer to Him.
This is Holy Week. Acknowledge that you know Jesus and reflect on what He did for you at the cross.
Please cut and paste this link so you can hear and see the words from “Who You Are” by Unspoken. (It’s worth 3mins 23 seconds!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_BLbj5q8_0