by Jim Mickells | Hickory Heights Messenger
What do people remember most about the apostle Peter? Would it be his great impetuousness? No doubt he acted quickly on occasion without adequate thought. I have certainly been guilty of such one more than one occasion myself. Certainly one of the things he is remembered for is his denying the Lord three times. We must never forget though this lead to tears of sorrow and repentance by this great man. There are some valuable lessons that you and I can learn from this man’s failure.
His first mistaken was that he was overconfident. Jesus had warned the apostles they would all be made to stumble because of Him that very night, fulfilling a prophecy in Zechariah 13:7 (Matthew 26:31). Yet Peter boldly proclaimed, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble” (Matthew 26:33). “Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times” (Matthew 26:34). He should have been asking the Lord for strength and courage, so that his faith would be sufficiently strong to stand firmly with his Lord. We can only be successful in serving Christ by putting our confidence in God and not just in ourselves. Paul warned, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
The second mistake? He followed the Lord at a distance (Luke 22:54). He did show some faith. He did follow. Yet not wanting to get so close where he could be identified in any way with the One who was about to die to redeem him from his sins. Do we show some faith by following? But do we follow afar as well? Peter, out of fear it seems, followed at a distance and even denied he knew the Lord. Are we afraid to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus? When we have an opportunity to speak with someone about Christ, out of fear do we withhold the truth? Do we follow from a distance because we are so busy with life we never have the time to study the word of God, to pray, to visit the sick, or to teach the lost? Listen carefully to the words of James, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8).
His third mistaken was warming at the fires of the enemy. “Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them” (Luke 22:55). Would his faith be strengthened by those with who he sat? would they help him to have the courage to stand up and admit he had been with Christ? Would they encourage him to speak to others about the Messiah? The answer to these questions is no! we need to be with those of like faith so we can be stirred to good work (Hebrews 10:24-25). If an individual intentionally misses one of the assemblies of the church, with whom is he sitting? At whose fire is he warming? Certainly, not with the Lord. Christ would be with His people, worshiping God. Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:30).
This lead to his denying the Lord. Later Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Notice the first time He posed this question to the apostle, “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’” (John 21:15). It is certain we do not know what the Lord meant by the expressing “more than these”? It could be, especially considering what Peter had said in Matthew 26:33, He was asking him if he loved Him more than these other men. Regardless, we just like the apostle, must answer the same question. Do we love the Lord more than our rest, recreation, jobs, families, sin, etc. (Luke 14:26-33).
May the Lord help us to learn from the mistakes of great men like Peter and from our own failures as well. Help us O Jehovah to trust in You, draw near to You, and to have our hearts warmed and encouraged at the fires where your people are gathered.