Pastor Travis Burkett
We’ve all heard about the relationship of Peter and Jesus. Remember at the Last Supper, Peter declared that he would never deny his Messiah. Look at the story in Matthew 26:34-35: “Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.”
After the Last Supper, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane with a few disciples to pray. Luke 22:47-53 tells us that one of the disciples, Judas, led guards to arrest Jesus. What did Peter do? He cut off an ear of the servant of the high priest! But as we fast forward hours later, Luke 22:54-62 unfolds. What is Peter doing here? He’s denying that he is one of Jesus’s followers. The question is, how could he?
After Jesus was arrested, Peter followed (from a distance, of course). Verse 55 says that Peter was warming up by a fire in the courtyard of Caiaphas's house. Peter looked to be tired, defeated, and weak. He was vulnerable and not in the spirit that Jesus told them to be in at the Garden. Remember what Jesus said: “The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.” Jesus knew the struggle of the flesh, and He reminds us that we may have a desire there to be faithful, but we must never underestimate the flesh. WE MUST KEEP OUR FOCUS!
So, back to the question 'How could he?' We find that Peter’s flesh was weak. Three times Peter rejected his Messiah. The one who takes away the sins of the whole world.
Haven’t we all been like Peter? We are quick to say we would never disown Jesus. Yet, there are instances where following Jesus becomes inconvenient, risky, or uncomfortable. We are often content patting ourselves on the back for what we did yesterday as we miss an opportunity to stand today.
I remember in high school, I had a summer relationship with this girl. Now my parents didn’t allow me to date, so it was under the radar (sorry, Mom, if you’re just hearing this story). I met this girl at the gym, and we started talking. As the relationship grew, she started questioning why we never spent time around my family. I knew the reason was because my parents wouldn’t approve of an unsaved girl, but I didn’t want her to think differently of me, so I passively evaded her question. Now, she knew I went to church sometimes, but she had no clue what I believed. I never told her about Jesus or invited her to church. But looking back, there were signs of genuine interest. Eventually, we stopped talking. She left confused and even a little angry. About a year later, I entered my first semester of Bible college. My life was quickly transforming as I grew closer to God. I received an interesting text from this girl. She asked me a pretty pointed question: “Were you a Christian while we were dating?” I replied, “Yes, and I’m sorry for how I wasn’t open about what I believed. I didn’t live it; I was fake.” I’ll never forget her response to me. She said, “If you are what a Christian is, then I want nothing to do with Christ.”
I was shocked. My rejection of God created a barrier for someone else. I lived denying Jesus because of fear and pride. It would appear that Peter was operating under the same motives. The best part of the story is after the Resurrection. Jesus defeated death and went looking for Peter. Can you imagine the guilt that Peter must have been carrying? Or maybe it was relief that he could finally tell Jesus that he was sorry! The best part is that when Jesus found Peter, Jesus gave him a second chance.
How could he? When we operate in fear or pride, we miss opportunities to be used and shine. May we be genuine during this time and be sensitive to opportunities to be used for God’s glory!