Mood: hug me
Topic: John 21:15-19
Imagine Peter's distress when Jesus told him, "Peter - this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know Me!"
"No!" Peter insisted. "Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!" (Matthew 26:34-35). However, God does not lie, and Peter eventually fled with the rest of the disciples (Matthew 26:56). A short time later, as Jesus' accusers spit in His face and hit Him with their fists, Peter proceeded to deny Jesus three separate times, even swearing by God's name that he didn't know Jesus (Matthew 26:69-74). Peter was not only lying, but by taking an oath he was essentially saying, "May God strike me dead if I am lying!" (Jesus spoke strongly against oaths in Matthew 5:33-37.)
If this were how the story ended, it would be a tragic tale of defeat.
However, we know from the Book of Acts that Peter did indeed later become a leader of the church. Somehow Peter's defeat was redeemed!
After hearing the rooster crow, Peter remembered Jesus' words, and "went away, crying bitterly" (Matthew 26:75). Peter was anguished by his denial, and repented; at that point he didn't have a clear idea that Jesus would be resurrected. When later Jesus appeared after His resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him; three times Peter had denied, and three times Peter reaffirmed his faith. Jesus accepted Peter, and called him to again follow Him: "Jesus told him, 'Follow me'" (John 21:15-19).
The lyrics for Third Day's song "Can't Take the Pain" creatively delve into how Peter might have felt during the ordeal:
"No, I didn't see this one coming
It suddenly snuck up on me
I can't say you didn't tell me so
I can't say you didn't warn me
I can't take the pain of knowing that I left you I can't bear the shame of knowing I was wrong But I'll take the blame for everything that I've done I can't take the pain of leaving you alone Of leaving you alone
"I was there when they accused you
but I guess I was too afraid
Not just once and not just twice
But three times I denied your name
I never thought I'd get even a second chance But you've given that and so much more And then for every time I ever did deny You ask me if I love you, You know I do, Lord
"So I'm off to follow in your steps
it won't be easy, it's safe to say
There are only two roads I can walk on down The road less traveled is the one you paved
"Lord, You took the pain even though I left You And You took the shame and You made it all Your own Why'd you take the blame for everything that I've done?
"Lord, You took the pain
You and You alone, You and You alone."
God is love, and no matter what, God always welcomes back anyone who honestly repents. Regardless of how many times we fail, God will always call us back to follow Him again. "If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness" (1 John 1:8-9).
Why do you think Peter denied Christ so vehemently? What defeats has God redeemed in your life?