A few hours before He was arrested, Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired all of you, to sift you all as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail you; and when you have turned back to Me, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).
Simon said he was ready to go with Jesus to prison and to death. But Jesus said to him, “I say to you, Peter, the cock shall not crow today until you have three times denied that you know Me” (Luke 22:34). Even though Jesus warned His disciples repeatedly, they had no idea that Jesus was about to be abused, crucified, and rise again. They were sure that Jesus was going to be a great earthly ruler and they would be important people in His government. Peter did in fact deny that he knew Jesus. When he heard the council shouting at Jesus and beating Him with wooden rods, he was terrified, so he told people three times that he did not know Jesus. It was not until he heard the cock crowing that he remembered Jesus’ prophecy. Then he went out and wept bitterly (Matt. 26:58-75, Mark 14:53-72, Luke 22:54-62, John 18:12-27).
One thing we can learn from this story is that the Lord loves us, even though He knows that at times we will deny Him. He prepares us for our failings, and He prays for us. Anyone who reflects realizes that at times he stumbles in his faith, especially in applying his faith to life. We know better, but sometimes we do stupid, hurtful things anyway.
What does Jesus want for us at times like this? Because He loves us, He wants to help us turn back to Him, and then He calls on us to strengthen our brothers. Often we learn best through our mistakes, the sins of which we repent. The Lord turns our failings into strengths, if we are willing to turn back to Him.
If you would like to hear a talk about this story, go to www.kemptonnewchurch.org and select “Downloads”. There you will can choose between audio and video services. On either page, click the link for Peter’s Denial.
At Easter we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from death. The Lord also wants to celebrate our coming back from our failings. It’s one of the main lessons He hopes we will learn from Easter: that we can come back to Him, and He will turn our weaknesses into strengths. “For this my son was dead, and is alive again, and was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:24). Come and see, Sunday mornings at 10:00.
Rev. Lawson M. Smith