Peter – You follow Me, Part One
Just before the crucifixion of Christ, on the night He was betrayed, Jesus shared a meal with the disciples, initiated the Eucharist with the bread and wine after supper, washed the disciples feet, and then took them on a walk out to pray with Him. He was wrapping things up with them, quietly, methodically, before the frantic moments He knew lay ahead.
Just before Judas arrived with the soldiers to arrest Him, Jesus spoke personally with Simon Peter, preparing Him for the soon-coming events.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. Luke 22:31-32a
“Satan has asked to sift you like wheat…” It reminds you of the Devil’s charge before God against Job, “Yes, but he has had it easy, make it a little rough on him and he’ll curse God and die…”
My hunch is that the same thing happened in the heavenly realm for Job as it did here for Peter – Jesus interceded.
Jesus knew the events of the coming days would be particularly rough on His disciples and that Peter would not be spared from the anguish and pressure to question his faith. But Jesus was confident in the young man’s heart, his faith, his love. And He was confident in His own intercession on Peter’s behalf. “When you repent and turn to me again, strengthen your brothers…”(32b)
Of course Peter didn’t see it that way. “Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” (33)
Jesus decided to give Peter a glimpse of the Master’s foreknowledge and the fact that He knew His disciple even better than the young man knew himself. “Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” (34)
How many times have you renewed your commitment to the Lord in the morning for a particular sin or practice you knew didn’t glorify Him, only to break your vow again, numerous times, throughout the coming day. Does the fact that He knows that you aren’t prepared to keep the vow you just made break your heart a little? It does mine.
Just after Peter assured Jesus of his fidelity things got really intense – Judas showed up with a group of soldiers to arrest the Lord.
“So they arrested him and led him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there. A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, “This man was one of Jesus’ followers!”
But Peter denied it. “Woman,” he said, “I don’t even know him!”
After a while someone else looked at him and said, “You must be one of them!”
“No, man, I’m not!” Peter retorted.
About an hour later someone else insisted, “This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean, too.”
But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.” Luke 22: 31-34, 54-62
“What was that?” Peter must have thought, “Why?” A little pressure and he folded like a towel. He had broken his own promise to the Lord – almost immediately!
Oh how many times we have walked in Peter’s sandals, breaking our word to the Lord almost as quickly as we had spoken it. Peter had vowed to be ready to die with Christ if need be, and yet had crumbled beneath a Handmaid’s pointed finger. I have forsaken my vows to the Lord under far less pressure.
Unfortunately, that’s the way they had left it. Peter didn’t get a chance to apologize, to reconnect. Jesus was rushed through a host of spur-of-the-moment trials, scourged, beaten, mocked – and crucified. Then He gave up His Spirit and died, buried in a borrowed tomb, sealed away forever.
But death couldn’t hold God the Son, Jesus conquered death and the grave with the same power that He defeated sin. He rose from the dead, rolling the stone away and breaking the seal and walking away alive. He appeared first to Mary, then to the disciples, two followers on the road to Emmaus, to Thomas and the disciples again after 8 days and then again, some time later, as a group of tired disciples finished a night of fishing… Continued tomorrow.