Monday, February 6, 2012


Zechariah had said so. Hundreds of years beforehand he had prophesied of the disciple’s response--“Strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered” (Zechariah 13:7). Jesus warned them that they would all fall away. Peter disagreed, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away” (Matthew 26:33)…“Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33).

Peter was frequently bold in his assertions. He was the one with the right answer when the question was raised, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). He boldly proclaimed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). And then there was that occasion, after the feeding of the 5000, when many of Jesus’ followers deserted Him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” (John 6:66). It was Peter who said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68). Peter had made it clear that he was with Jesus no matter what.

But Satan had demanded permission to tempt Peter (Luke 22:31). And Jesus foretold his betrayal (Matthew 26:34). “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times,” He said (Matthew 26:34). And so it came to pass. Peter had bravely cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest (John 18:10), but before a servant girl he was not so brave. “You also were with Jesus the Galilean” she said (Matthew 26:70). But he denied it. Another servant girl saw him and said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth” (Matthew 26:71). “And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” And then one of the bystanders came up to him and said: “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you” (Matthew 26:73). “Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man” (Matthew 26:74). And the rooster crowed. And Peter went out and wept bitterly.

“The Spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41), Jesus had told His disciples. That was before Peter’s denial. While Jesus labored in prayer, the disciples fell asleep. The flesh is weak. And it was weak when the temptation came and the servant girls and bystanders loomed larger than Goliath. One can only imagine the sorrow Peter felt. His love for Jesus was undeniable. To betray His Master that way—unforgiveable. Or so he must have thought. And what child of God has not experienced failure? Good intentions, for whatever reason, have led to bad results. And sorrow and despair and troubled conscience have brought torment, discouragement, and even depression. The devil delights in such things. But the ability of Christ to forgive and restore is greater. Take courage, believer for “He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world” (1 John 4:5). “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Jesus had foretold both Peter’s failure and restoration. “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers,” He said (Luke 22:31). And so we have that wonderful account of Peter’s restoration, following Christ’s resurrection, in John chapter 21. And Jesus asked Peter, three times (corresponding to Peter’s three denials), if he loved Him (John 21:15-17). And Jesus spoke of a future day when Peter would indeed lay down his life for His master (John 21:18-19; Luke 22:33).

It was not many days later when Peter and the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). A multitude of people, “from every nation under heaven,” was gathered together (Acts 2:5). In that multitude were those who played a part in Christ’s death (Acts 2:23). Those servant girls and bystanders might very well have been there too. It was a crowd exceeding 3000 souls (Acts 2:41). And there was Peter—he who had denied Jesus—boldly proclaiming the truth about Him before a great multitude. And He explained the truth about Jesus. And about 3000 souls were saved (Acts 2:41).

Peter had good intentions, but they were not enough. But his failure was not the end of the story. Jesus found him and restored him and strengthened him. And then, by the Spirit, Peter was emboldened to do things he could never do in his own strength (Acts 1:8; 4:31).

Let the cross be our glory
And the Lord be our song
By mercy made holy
By the Spirit made strong

Pastor Jerry

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