Too often I feel like Peter, denying Jesus to and fro.
Whether it’s in my thought life, my quiet time, the way I treat those I love… I catch myself not inviting Jesus in. I am not thinking upon whatever is true, noble, lovely etc. (Phil 4:8)
And far too often I let that cripple me, caught in guilt that bombards me and keeps me from moving closer to God. The unraveling begins before I can even make a move.
Tonight, at a friend’s bible study, we looked into the gospel accounts of Peter’s own denial of Jesus.
It all began with Jesus’ prediction in Matthew 26,
“I tell you the truth, 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!” And all the other disciples vowed the same. (verses 34,35)
Here, Peter swore on his life that he’d never deny his friend. And yet, a few verses down,
Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed.
Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly. (verses 74,75)
With the same life he swore upon, lest he deny Jesus, he curses that he does not know Jesus! What a fickle man! And yet, in my own life, with the same life that I fully surrender to Jesus, days later I am neglect to set aside 5 minutes to spend solely with him. Do you see the issue here?
What changed the whole story for me, however, was when we turned to John 21, and looked at the account of Jesus’ first interaction with Peter after His death and resurrection. Here, the last encounter Peter ever had with Jesus was a memory riddled with betrayal and shame. His best friend brutally murdered, and his own brutal abandonment. Try and imagine the internal dialogue in poor Pete’s head right now. And yet all Jesus says (paraphrased) is,
“Do you love me?”
“Do you love me?”
“Uh, yes Jesus of course I love you!”
“Do you love me?”
(a little hurt here) “YES!!!”
“Then feed my sheep.”
and after a little more clarity, He ends simply saying “Follow me.”
This is vital: we can’t let the little things get us down. When we (inevitably) fall and do things that deny our Savior, we have to get back up, and pull others back up with us when we do. In Luke 22, before Peter’s betrayal, Jesus says this.
32 But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus, friend to Simon Peter, is also Savior of Simon Peter. And that Savior prays for him! Interceding on homeboy’s behalf, desiring the best for him. And He does the same for you and me.
Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. (Romans 8:34)
During this bible study, I was overwhelmed by the realization that I had been letting my neglect of prayer time with God prevent me from even coming to Him. I heard Him say, “Do you love me?”and my heart said yes. I know that is enough for Him to work with. So now for you, friend,
if you love the Lord, know that is beautiful. Don’t let the shame of your wandering and unloving actions and choosing Netflix over quiet time keep you from Him and loving on his people. Know that He loves you and has called you to greater things than wallowing in shame. Do them! Lives are at stake! The Kingdom is at hand!
I get so happy with how this story ends: Peter became the rock upon which Jesus built his church.
Not the betrayer,
not the denier,
Remember, you may feel like only a denier, an abandoner, a failure now… but Jesus has a calling on your life- all lives surrendered to Him have deep, glorious purpose. And that call and that anointing does not go away when you mess up.
So keep on keeping on.
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:12-14)
His mercies are new every morning.
(Don’t let the rooster’s crow get ya down.)
- Mele // @melegirma