Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?”
And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.”
“But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.”
Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter – before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
Talk is cheap. Easier said than done. It’s what we do, not what we say, that reveals the character of our hearts. Peter was famous among the disciples for being the first to open his mouth. He was bold and brash. He often thought he knew the right answer and was seldom afraid to blurt it out. Sometimes, Peter’s confidence was an asset, like when he became the first to declare that Jesus is the Christ (Mark 8:29). He was sometimes also bold in action, like when he stepped out of the boat to walk on the water with Jesus (Matthew 14:28-30). Of course, he also began to sink! Even those of us with quieter, less showy personalities than Peter can still relate with his desire to express faith in clear, unambiguous terms. “I’m ready to die for you,” he said, and maybe we feel the same way sometimes. Until we don’t. Until we are faced with a really tough situation when our faith gets tested and our confidence is rattled.
In that moment, Peter may have been ready to die for Jesus, but after witnessing his Lord betrayed, arrested and put on trial, all the fight went out of Peter’s heart and Jesus’ words came true. He wasn’t alone. All the disciples ran and hid after Jesus was put to death. They all feared for their lives during those dark hours. We would have too. There are two sides to what Jesus told Peter than evening, and like Peter, we may focus only on one of them. Jesus predicted that Peter’s boldness would wither and he would deny knowing his Lord three times. It’s one of the things we remember about Peter, how he failed in that most difficult and dangerous test. But notice what Jesus said moments earlier: “You will follow me later.” That was also a prophetic prediction, and it also came true. Jesus knew that Peter and the other disciples would struggle and scatter during his suffering, but He also knew that after the resurrection, they would be restored to faith and find new spiritual strength.
You can learn from Peter’s failure and from his restoration. On the one hand, don’t think too highly of your own strength and resolve. It’s easy to talk about how deep your faith is or how certain you are that you would never dishonor Jesus, but when faced with a real trial or a serious threat, remember Peter’s struggle and turn humbly to the Lord for strength. At the same time, remember how Jesus welcomed Peter back and restored him to fruitful ministry as a leader of the early church. When you fall, Jesus picks you back up. When you give in to fear, the Spirit brings you comfort. Even when you sin, God covers you with the grace of forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Father, You are full of grace and truth. Thank You for washing away my sin in the blood of Jesus and for calling me to serve You despite my weakness. Fill me with Your strength and wisdom so I can honor You in the name of Jesus my Savior. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian