This was the question put three times, in one form or another, to Peter (John, chapter 18). He ultimately denied any knowledge of Jesus at all. Was this the same man who only a short time ago drew a sword to defend Jesus against Judas and the soldiers? Yes! The very same!
But Jesus had surprised him by His refusal to allow Peter to resist the soldiers, and now his hot-blooded response had cooled. Now, being cut off from his Master, he has had time to take in the life and death situation being played out. If he is identified as one of Christ’s, he could die as well. I can only imagine Peter’s increasing disgust with himself each time the question is put to him.
He couldn’t believe the denial had come from his lips...not once, not twice, but three times. Listen to his words earlier that same dark night, “Even if I have to die with You, I will never disown You” (Mark 14:31). How bitter the taste of those words now!
Christian, the question Peter was asked is being asked of us too...“Are you one of Christ’s disciples?” And Peter’s story can help us in many ways. Here are a few of them. As disciples of Jesus we are more than conquerors. Yet, Christ’s disciples can fail. Peter did. He failed in spite of his protests to the contrary. He failed in spite of his good intentions. And he also failed in spite of the fact that his Lord had prayed for him not to fail (see Luke 22:31-32). Have you failed in spite of many advantages?
Christ’s disciples may fail repeatedly. Please don’t misunderstand. We’re not proud of our failures. We are not minimizing them. We are not seeking permission or validation for our failures. Not at all! But, honesty forces us to admit them. One of the many ways Peter helps Christians today is through his response to repeated failure.
His attitude after a failure is instructive. It broke his heart to fail his Lord. Because he loved Jesus, it always broke his heart to fail Him. Have you known repeated failures in your attempts to serve our Lord? Good news! Failures in themselves do not mean you can’t be a disciple of Jesus.
Through their faith in Jesus, Christ’s disciples refused to give failure the final word! Judas betrayed Jesus and allowed his remorse to have the final word on his life. That word was suicide. Tragic! Peter betrayed his Lord too. But his faith in Christ wouldn’t permit him to let his life be defined that way. In spite of his remorse...his failure...his anger and disappointment with himself...he looked again to his Lord. He believed that Jesus could forgive him. He then accepted that Jesus had forgiven him.
And, very importantly, he refused to allow his failure to disqualify him from serving his Lord. And that is why when we think of Peter, we think of him, not along the lines of cowardly denials in John 18, but along the lines of boldly preaching the Gospel in Acts 2 where three thousand souls were saved that Pentecostal Sunday! And that, friends, is the difference Christ makes! Do you love Jesus enough to accept His forgiveness of you and to serve Him? (If you would like to pursue this matter, send a note to the email below.)
Written and submitted by Doug Oakes, minister, Woodlawn Church of Christ, Zanesville; email@example.com