“Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, ‘You are not also one of His disciples, are you?’ He denied it, and said, ‘I am not.’ One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with Him?’ Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.”John 18:25-27
When we think about the events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus, no doubt one of the low points was Peter’s denials of Christ. Three times Peter was asked by total strangers whether or not he knew Jesus, and three times he denied Christ, the third time with oaths and curses.
It’s so easy for us to judge Peter. After all, Peter and Jesus had been BFF’s for three years. They did life together, ate together, worked together, walked together, studied Scripture together. They did everything together. They were brothers. In John 13, Peter even declared that he was ready to die for Jesus.
But the real question remained: was Peter ready to live for Jesus? Was he willing to suffer rejection, loneliness, ridicule, and shame in the name of Jesus? You see, when Jesus was performing miracles and preaching love, it was fun to follow Jesus. But when things got real and things got tough, living for Jesus would become a real test of faith.
Three times Peter missed his chance to stand up for his friend and teacher. Three times he failed.
As Jesus suffered and died on the cross, I wonder how Peter felt, knowing that the last thing that his friend and Lord ever heard him say was to swear that he never knew Him.
But three days later, Jesus rose with resurrection power!
I imagine Peter had some mixed emotions—of course, he would have been ecstatic that Jesus had risen. But…I wonder if Jesus reminded him of the times he let his friend and Savior down in His time of greatest need.
Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection. One morning after breakfast, Jesus and Peter had a moment together, which we read about in John 21.
Jesus asked Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
Three times Jesus asked, and three times Jesus affirmed him, one for each of Peter’s three denials.
It was a moment of open-heart surgery, emotionally and spiritually for Peter. “You’re willing to die for Me, but are you willing to live for Me every single day?”
As Jesus forgives and affirms Peter, we see what a real Savior does. He not only forgave, but He reinstated Peter to fellowship and leadership. He restored him.
Failure would not become the last word of Peter’s life, but rather “FORGIVEN.”
Too many Christians live like practical atheists—they say they are Christians, but when Jesus or the Bible doesn’t fit what they like or what our culture says, suddenly they forget Jesus even exists. Before you declare that you are willing to die for Jesus, ask yourself, “Am I really ready to live for Jesus?”
Let’s not be practical. Let’s be passionate, sold-out followers for our faithful Lord Jesus.