April 30, 2021
Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
We’ve spent the week looking at Peter’s story of denying Jesus, and the ways we subtly (Monday) and boldly (Wednesday) do the same. Today’s verses come well before Peter was ever sitting around that campfire and before Jesus was arrested. Peter boldly declares his commitment to Jesus. Jesus replies (paraphrasing here), “No way, man. You are going to blow it big time in just a few hours.” We know how the story ends, but we also need to remember that this is how the story begins.
Peter’s denial of Jesus was not in any way unexpected or a surprise to Jesus. He saw it coming and called it out. And while Peter, even with an explicit warning, was entirely unable to change his behavior, Jesus did not disqualify him as a follower or disciple. Imagine this: Jesus knew Peter would deny him in his moment of greatest need before he even took him on as a disciple! For me, this revelation is a bit like the plot twist at the end of a spy movie. Suddenly everything that came before is highlighted from a different angle. Conversations, decisions, and plot points mean something entirely different than how they first appeared.
The same is true of Jesus and Peter. Out of all of his followers, Jesus chose Peter as one of the 12 disciples. They ate together and walked together. Jesus patiently taught him how to pray. He explained parables. Jesus even said in Matthew 16, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” They lived side by side for years, and all the while Jesus knew a deep betrayal was coming.
Take courage, friends. God knows how you have compromised, and how you will betray Him in the future. But you are not disqualified because of those inevitable shortcomings. His promises are still true for you, not because you will manage to overcome them (Peter surely didn’t), but because your failures are already in the equation. Jesus walking step by step with Peter, all the while knowing of his betrayal, is exactly the same way he walks with us. In that light, read these words from Romans 5.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.