Failure of the Worst Kind

Posted: August 31, 2014 in Mark

Mark 14:66-72, “Failure of the Worst Kind”

No one likes screwing up.  What’s worse is doing it in public.  What’s worse than that is doing it in front of not just a few people, but a lot of people.  For poor Peter, his screw-up didn’t just happen in front of his own contemporaries, but in front of the entire church for all time.  It was recorded in the Holy Scripture in all four gospels, and Christians have been studying it for over 2000 years.

Yet as humiliating as that could be, I sincerely doubt that Peter is one bit humiliated today.  I suggest that Peter is rejoicing in the presence of His Lord Jesus today, free from any stain of regret in his past.  His sin was paid for – he was personally restored to ministry by Jesus Himself – and he was still used by Jesus as one of the foundation stones for the Church.  We owe a large debt to Peter for our own salvation, for it was he who not only preached the first evangelistic sermon of the Church age to Jerusalem, but it was Peter who was one of the first to recognize that God had taken the gospel to the Gentiles.  Yes, Peter failed tremendously – but that is only half the story.  The other half is his restoration.  God still had a plan to use Peter in spite of Peter’s failure.  In fact, it’s possible that God was able to use Peter in an entirely different way because of his failure.  After all, a broken man is far more able to be molded than one who is potentially built up in pride.

Have you ever failed the Lord?  Not just a little stumbling or a tiny mistake…but have you ever fallen flat on your face and truly failed Jesus in such a way that everyone around you knew it?  You’re in good company.  That was the case with Peter.  It wasn’t the end for Peter, and it’s not the end for us, either.

Peter’s denial of the Lord Jesus is covered in only a few short verses at the end of Mark 14, but the story really began earlier that night.  Peter had taken a lot of little steps before he jumped off the cliff the way he did, and we need to take a few moments to review the setting.  There is always a setting (a context) for our sin, whatever it may be.  There are always a lot of little steps that take place before we engage in what is truly awful.

Step to sin #1: Peter argued with Jesus.  Mark 14:27–31, "(27) Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.’ (28) “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” (29) Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.” (30) Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” (31) But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise."

  • Jesus made it crystal clear what was going to happen that night.  Not only had it been written in the Scripture as prophecy, but He personally confirmed it.  That’s when Peter decides to argue and debate with Jesus – not just once, but twice.  When God says something, it’s true…period.  It doesn’t matter if we don’t like it or don’t want to agree with it.  Whenever God speaks, God speaks the truth.  This is part of His character.  God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should repent (Num 23:19).  It is actually impossible for God to lie – it’ something He cannot do (Heb 6:18, Tts 1:2).  When God speaks, universes come into existence.  Truth is inherent in His voice.
  • That applies to everything, including as to what God says about our human nature.  When the Bible says that none are good, none are.  When the Bible says our hearts are deceitful, they are.  We might want to buck the system and present we are stronger than all of that (as Peter did), but ultimately God will always prove to be true.  We are in desperate need of God’s help, and God knows it.  That’s exactly why He sent Jesus – we are doomed without Him.  We need to realize the depths of our depravity as God described it in His word, and admit it for what it is.  When we don’t, it only leads to trouble.
  • BTW – God’s word is not only true in matter of human weakness, but in every other area it touches as well.  This is the doctrine of infallibility.  From history to science to prophecy to the promises of salvation, God’s word is always true.

Step to sin #2: Peter neglected to pray.  Mark 14:37–40, "(37) Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? (38) Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (39) Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words. (40) And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him."

  • Like the other disciples, Peter fell asleep that night.  He had been invited to pray.  He had been given the opportunity to pray.  He had every reason the pray, especially considering the specific prophecy of his failure.  But Peter didn’t pray.  He took no time to prepare for the spiritual battle that lay ahead of him, and the weakness of his flesh overpowered the willingness of his spirit.
  • The importance of prayer cannot be overemphasized.  There is hardly a spiritual practice in which we can engage that sincere prayer does not play a part.  When we read the Bible, we can do it with our eyes just wandering across the page, or we can do so with a heard dedicated to God and listening for His voice in prayer.  Someone can go without food and fast in a ritual, or they can fast as God intended: humbly & prayerfully, using the hunger pangs as reminders to pray throughout the day.  When it comes to worship, we can sing out of habit & because everyone else is doing it, or we can truly worship the Lord in prayerful song.  Prayer is essential & integral in the life of a Christian.  It is how we interact with the Living God.
  • Prayer is also essential to spiritual warfare.  After all, no one goes into a battle unprepared.  You can have all the armor and weapons you want, but without any training or strategy of how to use them, the best tools are useless.  Likewise in terms of sports.  No one rushes off and joins the NFL or wins a gold medal at the Olympics.  There are years of training and preparation involved.  Some Christians want to be used by the Lord for His glory, but they don’t take any time for preparation.  It doesn’t work that way.  Nowhere in the Bible does God list off a bunch of qualifications and academic decrees that are necessary to be used by Him, but He invariably uses people humbly submitted to Him in regular prayer.  Peter was unprepared for the battle, and thus it is no surprised that he failed.

Step to sin #3: Peter reacted to trouble in his flesh.  Mark 14:46–47, "(46) Then they laid their hands on Him and took Him. (47) And one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear."

  • It was inevitable that Jesus would be arrested.  The Lord had warned the disciples of this many times prior.  Earlier that night, Jesus had spoken specifically of it.  Yet Peter reacts as if it were a total surprise.  Even if he were to “fight back,” there’s no hint of any spiritual thought.  Peter didn’t fall to his knees in prayer – he didn’t cry out to God for fire from heaven or angels.  He didn’t even simply put himself between the soldiers and Jesus, shielding Jesus with his own body.  Instead, Peter takes a sword and starts swinging wildly.  This isn’t even a coordinated defense; it’s a wild hacking.  He doesn’t even go against one of the temple guards, but against a (presumably) unarmed slave.  Peter’s attack could not be more ineffective if he tried, and it would have been his death sentence if Jesus hadn’t intervened.
  • The problem was that he responded with his flesh and not with his spirit.  It’s been often observed that the dog which is stronger is the one that is fed more.  Peter had not spent much time feeding his spirit, but he sure spent it feeding his flesh.  He built up his ego when he debated Jesus, and he fed his flesh even more when he slept instead of praying.  (Which are you feeding?)

Step to sin #4: Peter followed, yet kept his distance from Jesus.  Mark 14:53–54, "(53) And they led Jesus away to the high priest; and with him were assembled all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes. (54) But Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he sat with the servants and warmed himself at the fire."

  • After everything that had already happened that night, it is a wonder (and to Peter’s credit) that he followed Jesus at all.  Yet the problem is that from the very beginning, he was already trying to disassociate himself from Jesus.  Already he is denying his Lord, though he had not yet spoken a word.  He made up his mind in advance that he wanted to be distanced from Jesus, and simply be seen as an observer rather than an active disciple of the Lord.  It was inevitable that his words and actions would follow the direction of his mind.
  • Peter was trying to ride the fence with Jesus, and it cannot be done.  He was trying to distance himself from Jesus, without technically denying Jesus…IOW, he was trying to have it both ways.  We can’t have it both ways.  We are either children of light or we are children of darkness.  We either walk in the spirit or we walk in the flesh.  With either want to be known as believers in Christ, or we don’t.  There is no middle ground in any of that.  Beware of trying to stake out middle ground in your walk with Christ.  No one can serve two masters, which is exactly what Peter is going to learn.

That’s all the setting & background.  By themselves they were small steps, but each one took Peter further and further into trouble.  Finally the sin that he earlier dreaded came to fruition…there was no stopping it at this point.

While Jesus is inside the house of the high priest, enduring the onslaught of lying witnesses and false accusations against Him, Peter is on the outside waiting for news.  While he sits among the very people who had come out to the Mount of Olives to arrest Jesus, presumably trying to blend in, people begin to recognize him.  That’s when the trouble begins, and Peter has to take actions to protect himself.  Jesus has already been arrested and was in the process of being sentenced to death; Peter is understandably afraid of the same fate.

  • 1st question and denial

66 Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. 67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying.” And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed.

  • Remember that this is all concurrent to the events of Jesus’ trial.  Jesus was on the inside, and Peter was on the outside.  Jesus was apparently in an upstairs tribunal, and Peter was “below in the courtyard.”  Who exactly the girl was, we cannot say.  She was a slave serving the household of the high priest, and apparently she was the one who opened the courtyard gate for Peter to enter (Jn 18:16).  We’re not told how much time passed between Peter’s arrival and her question, but it seems that the girl started studying Peter’s face as he sat among the crowd, and she recognized him.  She knew that Peter was associated with Jesus, and she personally confronted Peter with her knowledge.
  • All of a sudden, Peter is faced with a choice.  He could be identified with Jesus (literally “the Nazarene,” as she dismissively called Him), or he could deny the charge.  Earlier that night, Peter claimed he was willing to die with Jesus (14:31) – now was his chance.  He could stand with his Lord, and endure the same sort of thing Jesus endured (though to a lesser extent).  Jesus was on the inside, being questioned by the high priest, and now Jesus’ chief disciple is on the outside being questioned by one of the priest’s servants.  Surely Peter (brave, bold Peter) would stand with his Lord unto the death.  Right?  Wrong.  Peter caved to a little girl.  Still trying to ride the fence, Peter pretended ignorance.  Scholars have recognized that Peter gave a legal answer – one known within the culture to evade responsibility.  It’s somewhat like Americans pleading the 5th Amendment, not wanting to say anything that might incriminate themselves.  (Though just the act of pleading the 5th is a tacit acknowledgement that you are aware of damaging information.)  It’s a similar idea here.  Peter is taking a technical option to try to justify himself.  He’s trying to distance himself from the question just as he tried to distance himself from Jesus.
    • The problem with using technicalities to justify our sin is that eventually we back ourselves into corners.  Eventually when splitting hairs, we come to one too narrow to split and we end up hurting ourselves.
  • Peter first attempted to evade the question, then he tried to evade the questioner as “he went out on the porch.”  Originally he had been warming himself by the fire; now he seemingly prefers the cold night air to the heat of the questions.  Being known (or being revealed) as a follower of Jesus had consequences, and Peter wasn’t prepared to face them that night.
    • Jesus tells us to count the cost.  Many of you have likely seen this symbol on the internet: ن ‎  . It is the Arabic letter “nun,” (equivalent to the Roman “N”), and it is used as short hand to refer to “Nazarene.”  The Muslim extremists in ISIL/ISIS have been marking Christian neighborhoods in Syria and Iraq with the letter to label the citizens there as Christians.  It’s proving itself to be a modern day equivalent of the Nazi’s marking of Jews with a yellow Star of David.  Christians are being told to convert to Islam, pay a tribute fine, or face death.  There is a cost for being known as a disciple.
    • The cost is worth it!  No hardship or suffering is desired by anyone, but we need to keep suffering in the proper perspective.  All suffering for a Christian eventually ends, no matter how harsh it may be.  Our future in eternity is not a future of suffering, but of peace and joy with Jesus.  THAT is what we look forward to, and that makes any temporary suffering here bearable.  Jesus is worth any cost.  Sadly, that is what Peter forgot in his flesh.
  • Depending on your translation, your Bible may or may not say that a “rooster crowed” at the time of Peter’s denial.  Jesus had earlier prophesied that a rooster would crow twice (14:30), and this was apparently the first instance.  It was not enough to jar Peter’s memory at the time, though he no doubt remembered it the second time the rooster sounded.  The reason why the phrase is not included in every translation is because of the sketchy manuscript evidence for it.  The words are not included in many of the reliable ancient Greek manuscripts, and scholars debate whether or not the words are original to the text.  However, there is no doubt that a rooster did crow either at this point or shortly after, because verse 72 is very specific about a rooster crowning “a second time” – and there is no doubt about those words.  Be careful not to let the textual debates throw you; the account as given us in the book of Mark is accurate.
  • 2nd question and denial

69 And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, “This is one of them.” 70a But he denied it again. …

  • Peter had tried to avoid the situation, but he couldn’t escape it.  It only makes sense.  After all, Jesus of Nazareth was on trial inside the house, and the group that arrested Him had one of His followers in their midst.  It’s no wonder they would keep talking about it!  … There is a bit of a difference between the various gospel accounts here.  Matthew 29:71 says that “another girl saw him and said to those who were there…”  Luke 22:58 says “another saw him & said…” (with the implication the speaker was a man).  John 18:25 has a general “they said to him…”  Although each description is different, none is contradictory.  Apparently Peter was the subject of much conversation with several people that night talking about him.  This is totally understandable considering the circumstances.
  • What is striking here is the brevity of Peter’s 2nd denial.  Unlike Matthew & Luke, Mark does not record Peter’s words.  All vs. 70 tells us it that “he denied it again.”  Yet that brief description is enough, is it not?  First, it demonstrates (again) that Peter’s technical answer earlier may have been legally acceptable, but it was no doubt a denial of his Lord.  Second, it is simply a categorical denial of his relationship with Jesus.  Peter did not want to be known as a disciple, and he made it clear in no uncertain terms that he was not.  If the first denial was an evasion of the truth, the second denial was a direct untruth.  Peter flat-out lied.
  • Already we can begin to see an escalation of Peter’s sin.  Things are going to get worse before they get better.  It’s been said that the first rule of getting out of a hole is to stop digging.  Right now, all Peter is doing is digging.  Have you ever been in Peter’s shoes?  Have you ever found yourself digging & digging, getting yourself deeper & deeper into sin?  There is only one solution: stop it.  Whatever you’re doing, just stop.  Stop trying to justify yourself – stop making excuses – stop your next plan, scheme, whatever…just stop.  Our problem is that we believe we can get ourselves out of our hole, but we can’t.  We need to be lifted out of the hole we made, and that means we need help.  We have to stop working in our own power and cry out to Jesus.
    • Part of that may be asking help from another Christian. As believers, we’re supposed to build up one another, and help one another, specifically in areas of temptation and sin.   Galatians 6:1–2, "(1) Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. (2) Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." []  Perhaps you know you need to seek help; perhaps you know someone who needs help, but doesn’t yet know to ask for it.  Go help them.  Be the Christian brother or sister that you would want someone to be for you. 
  • 3rd question and denial

… 70b And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, “Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.” 71 Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!”

  • More time passes and eventually Peter is confronted again.  There’s simply no way for him to get around it.  There was the moment Satan had been waiting for, when he desired to sift Peter like wheat (Lk 22:31).  Now Peter is totally giving into it, looking like a boxer who has gone two rounds too many.
  • This time the crowd brings proof.  It’s not a matter of facial recognition any more, where eyewitnesses might be mistaken in the night darkness.  This time Peter provides the proof himself with something he cannot avoid: his speech.  The crowd knew he was a Galilean from the way he spoke.  Just as a New York accent stands out in East Texas (and vice-versa), so did a Galilean accent stand out in Jerusalem.  Jesus was well-known to be from Galilee – even the slave girl had identified Jesus as “the Nazarene,” with Nazareth being a Galilean town.  Matthew simply records the girl identifying Jesus as “Jesus from Galilee (Mt 26:69).  People in Jerusalem who had Galilean accents were highly likely to have followed Jesus down from Galilee for the Passover.  Surely no Galilean would be at the home of the high priest at that hour of the night unless he had a vested interest in Jesus.  Peter’s own voice had given him away.
    • That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Hopefully, there is something about our lives that is inherently of Jesus.  Hopefully there is some evidence among us that if someone merely observed our daily routine, they would be able to identify us as believers in Christ.  If not, then something is wrong.  As other have often said, if we were on trial accused of being disciples of Christ, would there be enough evidence to convict us?
    • For Peter, there was…but it wasn’t what he wanted at the moment.
  • This is when Peter “began to curse and swear.”  Don’t get the idea that Peter was cursing like a sailor, using profanity.  That’s not the picture here.  Instead, he was calling down curses upon himself, swearing oaths that he did not know the Lord.  So much does Peter swear this, that he actually avoids using Jesus’ name: “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!”  The girl could say Jesus’ name in accusation, but Peter could not say it in affiliation, much less in faith.  This is the same apostle who had said to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  Now he only refers to Jesus as some anonymous guy, not worth the name He was given.  How Peter had fallen!
  • Peter may not have used profanity, but he did get upset.  He almost seems at the point of violence.  All his emotions are involved at this point.  This is how completely invested he is in his sin.  He so wants to be “proven” right that it doesn’t matter what he doesn’t care what he says any more, as long as people leave him alone.  He’s completely given himself over to the lie, and he’s not even thinking straight anymore.  To swear oaths that he doesn’t know Jesus?!  He’s calling upon GOD in a worthless oath to swear that he doesn’t know the Son of God.  He is inviting God to send curses upon himself for lying…the very thing that he knows he’s doing.  He’s basically daring God to strike him dead.  Peter could not possibly realize what he was saying at the moment, so given over was he to his sin and self-deception.
    • Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this could only happen to Peter, and can only happen in this sort of circumstance.  This same sort of thing could happen to ANY believer, regarding ANY sin.  We can so give ourselves over to it that we forget who we are, and we end up acting in ways we would normally abhor.  As Paul wrote of his own experience, we find ourselves not practicing the things we know we ought to do, but doing the things we hate (Rom 7:15).  We’ve presented ourselves as instruments of unrighteousness to sin (Rom 6:13), in effect giving ourselves over as slaves to the very things that Jesus died to save us from.  Soon we find ourselves drowning in our sin, overwhelmed by the things we’ve brought upon ourselves, and unable to get free.  What can be done?  Romans 7:24–8:1, "(24) O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (25) I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. (1) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." []  Turn yourself over to Jesus!  Stop giving yourself over to your flesh, but give yourself over to the One who died for you.  Jesus does not bring condemnation, but freedom.
  • Sorrow and repentance

72 A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.

  • Surely we can imagine the conviction at that moment.  We’ve all felt it in the past.  It’s that moment that the fog of our sin lifts and we experience absolute clarity in our mind.  We see our sin for what it is, and ourselves for what we have momentarily become, and we are cut to the core.  What it takes to jar us back into reality might be different – for Peter, it was the 2nd crowing of the rooster.  The 1st crowning had not gotten his attention.  After all, he lived in an area where roosters crowed every single day – that in itself wasn’t unusual.  It was the 2nd crowing at the very moment he was in the process of swearing oaths of denying the Lord (per Lk 22:60) that he remembered Jesus’ prophecy.  In fact, Luke gives us the added detail that the rooster crowed, Jesus’ eyes met with Peter’s (Lk 22:61), and that’s when the memory came flooding back.  It had only been a few hours’ earlier that Peter vehemently swore he would never deny the Lord, and now he was vehemently swearing that he never knew Jesus.  The exact opposite of Peter’s desire had come true, and everything Jesus had said about him had come to pass.
  • It’s no wonder that Peter wept.  If you’ve ever failed God, you know the feeling.  There’s no doubt that Peter did truly love the Lord Jesus.  He had not set out that night to deny his Lord.  Peter was not like Judas, who had a predetermined plan of betrayal.  Peter was a man of great faith.  He was the disciple who had believed Jesus enough to walk on water.  He was the disciple who correctly identified Jesus as the Christ.  He was one of the few disciples to witness Jesus in all of His glory at the Transfiguration, and more.  This was a man who knew what it was like to walk with God, and be properly amazed in His presence.  This was a man who had already experienced much forgiveness and grace from Jesus, and worshipped Him as God.  And now he failed.  Given an opportunity to stand with Christ, he sat down.  Worse than that, he ran the other direction to the point of completely opposing Jesus.  He failed horrendously, and it grieved him.  He “wept,” and as Matthew & Luke both describe it, he “wept bitterly.”  BTW – this is different than what the Bible describes when “Jesus wept” at the tomb of Lazarus (Jn 11:35).  The Greek word there indicates that Jesus shed tears, whereas the Greek word used with Peter speaks more of bewailing and sobbing.  Peter did not shed 1-2 tears of regret; he was cut to the core and he wept as the broken man that he was.
  • No one likes sorrow, but sorrow isn’t always a bad thing – at least, when it’s the right kind of sorrow.  There is a type of sorrow that is grief just for the sake of grief.  It’s a self-absorbed sorrow, where you feel bad and all you can think about is yourself & how you’re feeling.  But there’s a different type of sorrow, which is not man-centered but God-focused.  It’s when you don’t feel sorry for yourself, but you feel sorry for what you’ve done against the Lord.  It’s sorrow, to be sure, but it is sorrow that can actually lead somewhere.  2 Corinthians 7:10, "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death." []  Peter was cut to the core, and he grieved – but the grief he had was godly.  He realized what he had done against the Lord, and how greatly he failed…but he never gave up on his faith.  Eventually we see Peter still with the other disciples, though locked away in a house three days after Jesus’ death.  Peter did not give himself over to despair and death (as did Judas).  We ought to rightly sorrow over sin, but let that sorrow lead you to the cross.

So is that all there is?  Does Peter end in hopelessness?  Absolutely not.  If this account were all we knew about the life of Peter, we probably wouldn’t give Peter a second thought – he would just be written off to the dustbin of history.  Yet obviously there is much more.  All of this truly happened to Peter, but this wasn’t ALL that happened to Peter.  Not only was there sorrow and repentance on his part, there was restoration from Jesus.  The story of Peter’s denial is incomplete without it.

John 21:15–19, "(15) So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” (16) He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” (17) He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. (18) Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” (19) This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”"

It’s interesting that John is the only gospel writer who includes this account.  John was the only writer to avoid writing of Peter’s weeping, but he’s also the only writer to include Jesus’ personal restoration of Peter.  Even if John had never written it, there would be no question of Peter’s restoration – after all, there’s no question how God used Peter to help establish the church in the book of Acts.  But John’s account gives us the details of how the rest was made possible.  Just as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, He intervened in the life of Peter.  He accounted for every instance of sin, and gave grace instead of condemnation.  Peter certainly felt grief.  He felt the weight of his sin upon himself as Jesus confronted him with the reality of Peter’s earlier denial.  But there was no condemnation from Jesus; only love and an invitation to continue his earlier walk with Christ – to pick up where he had left off.  Jesus even speaks to Peter the same words He did when He initially called Peter to be a disciple in the first place: “Follow Me.”  To the truly humble and repentant Peter, there was no guilt-trip – there was only grace.

The broken & humble Peter was able to be used by Jesus in a powerful way, that perhaps he never would have been if he hadn’t failed the way he did.  Obviously, it would have been better for Peter not to have failed – for him to have taken Jesus’ warning seriously, to have spent time in prayerful preparation, to have responded to his problems spiritually without distancing himself from Jesus, etc., but it is a once-fearful & broken and restored Peter that is able to able to stand up as boldly as he does in the middle of Jerusalem and proclaim the resurrected Lord on the day of Pentecost.  No longer afraid of a little girl, or even of a handful of people, Peter is now able (in the power of the Holy Spirit) to proclaim the good news of Jesus’ resurrection to thousands of people all at once.  This was a man who understood the cost of sin and salvation, and did not put himself as a roadblock to Gentiles receiving eternal life.  This was a man now truly willing (and able) to lay down his life for his Lord, just as he had desired to do earlier.  He was transformed by the grace and power of God.

There were several small steps that led to his sin – there was the magnitude of the sin itself, where Peter completely gave himself over to it – there was godly sorrow that took place once he came to grips with reality – and there was the supernatural transformation that took place as Jesus extended His grace.

That’s what Peter experienced, and that’s what all of us can experience as well.  Beware of the thought that we could never do the same thing Peter did.  There is a reason that this is one of the rare accounts that is included in all four gospels.  The church needed to be warned that if it could happen to Peter, it could happen to all of us.  The good news is that although the same danger exists for every Christian, so does the same promise of forgiveness.  It is sadly possible for all of us to fail God immensely.  But failure is not the end.  God can still use us after we have failed, but we do have to deal with that failure. 

First, we have to stop digging.  We’ve got to admit our sin for what it is, and acknowledge that we need help.  That takes humility – a willingness to admit that we are wrong.  Second, we’ve got to cry out for help.  We’ve got to be willing to go to God and ask for that which we do not have on our own, and submit to Him as He delivers us.  And He WILL deliver us.  1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  []  That is the promise to every believer in Christ Jesus.  He WILL forgive.  He WILL cleanse.  He WILL restore.  But WE must confess.  Stop what you’re doing, confess it, turn from it, and receive the forgiveness and cleansing Jesus offers.


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