Friday, December 05, 2008

What can I learn from Peter’s denial of Christ?

In the story of Jesus’ betrayal Peter didn’t believe in his heart what Jesus said about His death. We know in hindsight Peter eventually believed, but his “little faith” showed itself. Peter was willing to live up to his promise not to leave Jesus because he still believed Jesus wasn’t going to die. Jesus confirmed to Peter that He was the Christ. This was in response to Peter’s answer to Christ’s question, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” Peter accepted this truth. Though only a moment later Jesus rebuked Peter when he tries to convince Jesus that He wouldn’t suffer, die and rise to life. Peter believed half the equation, this is why Peter cut off Malchus’ ear in the garden when Jesus was arrested. He was trying in his own strength to live up to his promise and prove to Jesus he wouldn’t abandon Him. This too is why he followed Jesus to the hearing before the high priest, because he wasn’t going to fail Jesus. But he still fundamentally believed Jesus wouldn’t die and was watching Jesus waiting for Him to use His power to perform miracles to save Him.

Can you imagine the fear Peter had when his faith that Jesus would protect Himself disappeared when Peter saw the guards strike and spit on Jesus and He did nothing? Peter freaked because he still didn’t believe Jesus would die and definitely did not realize He would rise again. Peter was witnessing Jesus’ prophesy but didn’t have the right mindset to appreciate the circumstances, so in his flesh he panicked, denied Jesus and fled. This was the sin, not believing Jesus. So he didn’t fully grasp what Jesus was going to do. So what? How often before hindsight do we know how Jesus works out His life in and before us? So the damage done was Peter acting out of his own understanding, promises and plans in his own strength instead of not panicking and obeying or trusting what Jesus said. Interesting though, it’s hard for Peter to trust what Jesus said because he wouldn’t accept it. He didn’t want to believe it. So the story played out the way it did. If Peter had humbly accepted what Jesus was saying and allowed his vision of Jesus to form as Jesus was communicating instead of casting Jesus in Peter’s image of the Christ and all he previously though of the Christ- he would have had a healthy view about what was to happen and would have lived out Jesus’ death and resurrection in faith. Instead we see his lack of faith all the way through. He didn’t believe Jesus. He didn’t understand how Jesus would raise from the dead. If he had believed Jesus, even if not at first, he would have gotten faith that Jesus would raise from the dead when he saw Jesus’ first prediction about being handed over to be crucified come true. As Jesus’ suffering began two things:
1. Peter was still in the old mindset in his assumptions around the Messiah, so when Jesus began to suffer, Peter began to doubt Jesus as the Christ instead of doubting his assumptions of the Christ not suffering and dying.
2. Peter should have remembered what Jesus said would happen and have peace knowing the rest of what was to come, the resurrection.

But God’s will be done as Jesus restored Peter after he’s out fishing because God’s plan of redemption and ultimate purpose for Peter could not be thwarted. Even if we are faithless He is faithful. The circumstances around Jesus’ death wouldn’t have changed but the pain and sorrow around Peter’s disobedience could have been avoided had he accepted Jesus’ word and lived in faith. How will I choose to learn from Peter’s example and live with a humble view, accepting God’s truth instead of believing whatever I want to believe and attempting to live out a life of faithlessness in my own strength?


Blogger Jonathan Dow said...

I learned that even those closest to Jesus fall, and that He always picks them back up. It's a little encouraging to me, that Peter denied Jesus and was restored. I don't plan on denying Jesus, but I make mistakes too.

10:25 AM  

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