William J. Stewart | Faces Surrounding Calvary
“And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.’ But he said to Him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.’ Then He said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.'”
The above words are some of the saddest which you will find in your Bible. They show that even the one with great zeal for the service of God is able to fall. Peter, having been with Jesus since called by the shore of the Galilean sea had witnessed many wonders, and confidently proclaimed to Jesus, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!’ This is the same Peter who, when Jesus opened the door for His disciples to depart from Him with the multitudes stated, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…’ Again, in our context, Peter professes his faith and desire to serve God, stating that he was ready to go to prison, yes, even death for the Lord.
Jesus no doubt wished that these words of Peter’s would come true, but He knew it wouldn’t. Scripture stated that the Shepherd would be struck, and that all would be scattered, including this devout Galilean. Peter would deny Jesus. He would deny Him, not just once, but three times before morning came. He would curse and swear to the fact that he did not even know who Jesus was.
After Peter had denied Jesus, Luke writes, “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord… So Peter went out and wept bitterly.” I, as many others have wondered what that look was like. It was piercing. Piercing to the heart and soul of Peter. Not hateful, but a look of disappointment; and no doubt, a look of love and forgiveness. Peter ran away, and wept.
In the context we also find comfort. Jesus realized that Peter would fall. Jesus prayed for Peter. He forgave Peter. He encouraged Peter. Jesus accepted that Peter would stumble, and told him to get back up, that there was work for him to do in the kingdom. “…And when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” Jesus was not going to hold Peter’s unfaithfulness against him, but forgave it, and removed the stains it left.
For us today, we have a wonderful lesson in Peter. We can relate to him easily, for the Scriptures are revealing of his errors. We might have great zeal for the service of God, yet will at times fall. We will in our own way curse and swear that we don’t know the Man. And when such happens, if we truly are the children of God, we will feel the need to weep. Peter was a big, husky man, but his unfaithfulness turned him into a whimpering child. Such is the effect of unfaithfulness. But most importantly, realize that Peter was restored by the Lord. Peter had a place in the kingdom. We too will be restored by Him. We too have a place in His kingdom.