31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. 32 But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” 34 But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
Oh, Peter. Dear sweet Peter. Aren’t you so glad this man was part of Jesus’ crew? I know I am! There have been countless times in my Christian walk when I have felt a kinship to Peter.
I think there is a bit of Peter in each of us, eager to follow God and so confident that we will never trip up and fail.
But our best intentions are never enough.
And that is what discover in this Scripture account.
Even though Peter believed whole heartedly that he would never betray his Lord, we all know that Jesus predictions about Peter were true, despite Peter’s previous convictions.
And here lies the wisdom we must hold onto, the thing that Jesus can teach us through this interaction.
Our best intentions are never enough.
When Peter feared his life was on the line, he denied that he even knew Jesus not just once, but three times, like Jesus predicted.
There is a lot of value in Jesus’ interaction with Peter that can help us on our personal walk with the Lord.
It teaches us:
1.) We can’t rely on how we think we are going to respond. Instead, we must be prepared.
2.) What Jesus says is true even if we don’t believe it.
3.) What Jesus tells us is an opportunity for us to grow.
There are some very important lessons to be learned in this passage.
But what would have happened if Peter had responded differently when Jesus spoke to him?
When Jesus predicted Peter would deny Him, Peter was obstinant. He refused to listen and would not receive the prediction from Jesus because it just made no sense to him.
Make no mistake, Peter loved the Lord. He believed with every fiber in his being that he would never betray Jesus. He imagined that he would endure the same trials as Jesus… because Peter loved Him that much.
It was in this blind love that Peter didn’t recognize his fallibility. He didn’t understand the pressure of the circumstances Jesus was about to endure. Peter was not prepared for the violent climate of the crucifixion.
But Jesus knew Peter wasn’t as strong as he thought he was.
Jesus knew that things were about to get very bad quickly, and Peter wasn’t internally prepared for that.
But if Peter had responded differently to Jesus in that moment, maybe Peter’s path would have changed on the night of Jesus’ arrest.
What if Peter had instead said to Jesus, “Wait, what? Really? Why? How? Lord, if this is true, is there any way around it? Is there any way I can prepare not to respond this way? Is there anything I can do?”
It’s often difficult to receive predictions about how we’ll react in the future, even from a wise person. It’s can sometimes feel too harsh and we naturally revolt and say, “No, I’d never do that,” even when it comes from someone we trust.
But when truths come from Jesus, we must try to stay open to how He speaks and what He tells us. We must avoid going into self-protection mode and refuse to hear something God is telling us because it just hurts too much or it feels so untrue.
This is how we grow in faith, because Jesus always has something important to say to us. Jesus teaches us things like love your neighbor, don’t judge, take the plank out of your own eye, love God above your own self (and everything that entails), forgive, yes even those who really hurt you.
I don’t know about you, but I have to return to these core teachings over and because as much as I love Jesus, I still sin.
I find myself not loving all people, not forgiving all the time, judging others, and a whole host of things I wish I didn’t do- but still sometimes creep in. It is only through God’s guidance that He can help me love all, forgive all, and judge not.
We should not respond to Jesus the way Peter did. We need to hear where God is saying, “Hey you have this weakness, don’t be stubborn. Listen to where I am leading you.”
I think Peter was hurt in the moment about Jesus’ prediction. Peter misinterpreted Jesus’ words as a test of his love for Him.
And sometimes that happens with us when God speaks to us or exposes a sinful behavior in our lives. We recoil and go into self-protection mode. We say, “No, not me, God. Never.” But that stubbornness and lack of openness leads us further from God and His direction and healing in our lives.
So let us learn from Peter in this interaction with Jesus.
When God speaks to our heart to correct our path, He is doing it out of love and desire for restoration.
He wants you to be whole and complete in His grace, truth, and love. When God exposes our sinful behaviors, it is out of His immense care for us, not judgment. It is an opportunity to grab a hold of Jesus’ hand and go where He leads you.
I hope you take hold, because our God is the One who brings beautiful rainbows out of the storms.
What is God “predicting” in your life right now? What is He exposing to you as a negative direction in you life that He wants to change? Ask God to highlight where He’d like you to respond and change your path and ask Him to prepare your heart so that He can lead you through it.
Jesus, Thank you for always showing me the way. Thank you for illuminating opportunities for growth in my life, for pointing out things that are leading me away from you, away from your way of life. Lord, help me to trust that all that you show me is for my good, to become more like you. I honestly want to become more like you because you are the best there is. Show me the way. Help me to trust. Give me the strength to follow wherever you lead. And thank you for your life here on this earth. I am a benefactor of your ministry. Amen.
To read the follow up devotion to this, click here for Easter Monday’s devotion on the restoration of Peter!
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Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.