I hope you had time to look back over the work we did earlier on Jesus’ conversation with Simon Peter at the last Supper they had together before the Crucifixion. Remember? Interrupting a quarrel among the disciples, Jesus singled Peter out and told him: “I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not.”
As I’ve read and pondered the life of Simon Peter, it’s pretty apparent there is a trail, which led to his denying Jesus in the early morning hours that preceded dawn, and the mock trial, and the brutal murder of Messiah. You could see early on that Peter had and impulsive, almost arrogant, self-sufficient, self-important air about him. In spite of Jesus’ cautioning him, Peter usually rushed in, without much thought, headlong at his own speed, and in the direction of his choosing. He seldom sought advice or heeded instruction or warning (even from the Man whom he called Master.). Coupled with that, Peter had a hair-trigger temper and a tongue that often was disconnected from his brain.
It was no accident that Peter got tripped up. He was out of control. At times the uneducated fisherman was a “loose cannon.” It was simply a matter of time until he ran headlong into a brick wall or plunged recklessly over a precipice. If Peter had ever heard the words: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” there’s no evidence that he heeded the warning.
As Jesus noticed Peter’s stubborn vulnerability, He threw him a lifeline. Before the fall ever even happened. “I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not.” That sruck me as a little bit of “preventive maintenance on Jesus’ part!
I believe I can guarantee you that Peter never forgot that promise! Even if he had a brief “eclipse of faith,” and later as he faced and endured incredible trials do not think the power of those words had no effect on the clumsy, bumbling, stumbling fisherman! Peter actually heard the words right out of Jesus mouth! You and I can only read them. . . but does that make the promise less important? In fact, in our legal system, isn’t the fact that a document is “in writing” take precedence over what may sometimes be ruled in court as “an unenforceable verbal agreement?”
This study has not been a “cut and dried effort” on my part.” Nor am I insisting that you agree with all my logic or conclusions. Please do your own thinking. But consider carefully what you study and what the implications as well as the applications may be.
May I ask you to ponder this thought: If you were under heavy duress in some “hour of trial,” would it mean anything to you if you thought: “Jesus may right now be praying FOR ME? Por moi? Yes, YOU.
In my opinion, this marks one of the important “keys” to Peter’s “comeback. The remembrance of Jesus promise to pray for Peter must have brought great strength and hope and determination to his commitment.
Now, may I ask you to consider another of those “keys?” It seems very significant to me that Jesus did not dismiss Pete because he “messed up.” You and I might have dumped him like a rotten egg if it had been our call. But, when Jesus arose, He called for a “reunion” and, guess what. Peter got invited. The word was sent out to everyone on the list, but especially, don’t forget Peter. Jesus called him by name. “He may have excluded himself, but I include him. Go tell Peter to meet me at the lake.” Here’s the account of that incident as it’s recorded in Mark 16:1-7
“And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very earlyin the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
“4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side,clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.”
Go tell His disciples. . . and Peter…. That’s sort of subtle. The kind of thing you could skim over lightly, unless you’re paying attention, searching. Where had he been? What had Peter been doing between Friday and Sunday morning? He was disgusted with himself. Angry. He had a chance to be a hero. And he blew it. In spite of that, Jesus wantedthe other disciples to be sure Peter knew he was invited.
But, just because Peter turned his back on Jesus, did not mean Jesus turned His back on Peter! Nor will He ever. And Jesus takes that same position for all His disciples. Everywhere. Every single one of them. The One who never lies said as plainly and as simply as anyone could say anything: “I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you.” “I’m with you ALWAYS, even to the end of the age!”
It seems to me that Peter had “resigned his commission.” He wasn’t “fired” because he messed up. He simply quit. He gave up on himself, but Christ had not given up on him. Paul later said: “He who has begun a good work in you will continue (and complete) it…” (Matthew 4:13-20). He’s not through with you. “But I struck out in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded.” There’ll be other days. Other opportunities. Remember what I told you the other evening: “I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not.”
I’ll bet you every time Peter saw a Rooster. . . or heard one cock his head back and crow . . . he remembered
Christ had confidence in Peter when Peter did not have confidence in himself. I can tell you gratefully, and humbly, that it was my good fortune to have some people who loved me (never stopped), prayed for me (never thought about quitting), and believed in me and for me when I could no longer do that for myself. How I long at this moment to be able to express that knowledge in such a convincing manner you would clutch the same promise to your own heart!
The point I believe is valid. Very valid. We’re searching for reasons why Peter was able to “come back.” Wonder what it meant for Peter to realize that Jesus wanted to see him. Called him by name. He knew very well he’d failed, miserably and publicly. But put him back on the team.
Forgiveness isn’t an achievement. It is a gift. Failure isn’t an unforgiveable sin. Quitting is the problem.
The Lord saw something in Peter that I’ll bet you missed. I certainly did. You think you’d have picked him for any significant assignment? Knowing just what you know…not what Jesus knew about so many capable figures over the vastness of time and all the inhabitants of earth. Would THAT have been your selection for a spokesperson? “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. You have an assignment. A duty to perform. I trust you. I know your failings and shortcomings. I love you nevertheless, and I have confidence in you. Now, stop moping and start hoping. Get your chin up. Throw your shoulders back. Get back to work. Be done with self-pity! Be done with self-recriminations.” Be done with the Guilt that gnaws at your entrails like a deadly virus. Paul put it this way: “There is, therefore, no condemnation for them who are in Christ Jesus. . .” The one whom you betrayed is also the One who says: “Neither do I condemn thee.”
Stay close to Christ,
God’s servant and son, your friend, brother, and fellow student ~donkimrey