Friday, April 2, 2010

Someone Like Peter

Of the twelve apostles, I feel a real connection with Peter. It's no surprise--lots of people do. Perhaps it's because Peter is portrayed so realistically throughout Scripture.
Peter was opinionated and passionate.
He was a big talker.
He could be argumentative with the Lord.
At times he was hot-tempered and impulsive.
And he failed. Peter failed miserably.
Is it any wonder that a mom like me can find common ground with this New Testment-era fisherman?

Peter was just an ordinary man living a normal life. He had a job and a family. He had a routine. Yet when Christ called Peter to follow Him, he did it. He followed Christ without hesitation. Peter stumbled many times along the way; he dragged his feet, he tripped, and he sometimes got ahead of the Lord. I think that's what I love most about Peter: I love his humanness. I love his imperfection. I find great comfort in the fact that someone so close to the Lord, someone who had lived with Him day after day for three years, someone who really loved God with all his heart--someone like that could still fail.

Someone like that could still be forgiven.

Peter's greatest failure was in denying the Lord following His arrest. After Jesus and the disciples had eaten the Passover together and departed from the Mount of Olives, Christ told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed the arrival of dawn. Jesus explained that He was aware that every one of them would "fall away on account of me." But good ol' Peter was so certain of his love for Christ he declared, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." Can't you just see him, wide-eyed, chest out, looking down his nose at the other guys? It was a prideful thing to say, but Peter honestly couldn't see himself deserting his Lord.

Once Jesus was arrested, Peter secretly followed as the soldiers took Him to Caiaphas. The Bible tells us that Peter entered the courtyard where he could see what was happening, and he sat down with the guards. A couple of people recognized him as one of the twelve, and immediately, Peter angrily denied knowing Christ or being associated with him in any way. The book of Luke describes Peter's third and final denial this way:

About an hour later another asserted, "Certainly this fellow was with Him, for he is a Galilean."
Peter replied, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him. (Luke 22:59b-61a)
Have you ever been face to face with God? Has God Almighty ever confronted you with the depth of your sin? Have you ever experienced that watershed moment, as Peter did, when the Lord looked you in the eye--caught your glance and held your gaze--and you crumbled, as Peter did, under the weight of your conviction? The Scripture goes on to explain that Peter ran outside, and he "wept bitterly [that is, with painfully moving grief]" (Luke 22:62 AMP).

If I were in Peter's place, would I have done the same thing he did? Wait a minute...I've done my share of denying Christ. I don't have to put myself in Peter's place and wonder what I would do because I've done it. Have you? To deny Christ as Peter did is to say that we don't know Him. It is to refuse to admit that we are associated with Him. Think of your behavior, your attitudes, your habits, and your speech. Does your lifestyle deny Christ or declare Him?

Peter's story doesn't end with a broken man sobbing on some back street in Jerusalem. Jesus forgave Peter, and Peter was redeemed. He accepted Christ's forgiveness and walked in it with his head held high. He didn't dwell on the past and live a life of "if only." No, eventually Peter dried his eyes and blew his nose and left the back street he had soaked with his tears to continue following Christ. Then, fifty days after that terrible night of denial, Peter preached at Pentecost. His powerful sermon led 3000 people to faith in the risen Lord. It was another watershed moment--the beginning of the global spread of the Gospel and the start of the first church--and it happened to someone like Peter!

I saw a church sign advertising its pastor's Sunday sermon: "Pentecost for Everyone!" it proclaimed. Hallelujah! Like Peter, we've all failed. We've all denied Christ. But there is Pentecost for everyone. Christ offers forgiveness, redemption, and a wonderful new beginning. If you are someone like Peter, rejoice! There is Someone who loves you. That Someone is Christ.

May you have a blessed Easter!


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