Theme: When Unlikely People Fall
In this week’s lessons, we look at the story of Peter’s denial, and see that no matter our sins, we can be forgiven and restored because of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf.
Scripture: Matthew 26:75
In addition to thinking about how Peter fits Psalm 1, there’s another passage I think about. It’s good to think of the two together because this second one is encouraging. Earlier, Jesus was prophesying what was going to happen to Peter, and He said to him, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” This is an encouraging passage because it teaches us that although Peter was prone to fall, and did fall, Jesus, nevertheless, was concerned about him and prayed for him. As a result of Jesus’ prayers, although he fell by denying the Lord, his faith did not fail. That is, he remained joined to Jesus in a saving way and so was strengthened by the experience.
Now I want to apply all of this to ourselves. But before we do it, I think we have to recognize that of all the disciples who were involved in the events of these days, it was Peter, and not the others, who fell by denying his Lord. That is, he was a strong disciple, not what we might call a half-hearted disciple, that is, someone who was loosely or merely externally connected with Jesus but not in a saving way. If it had been someone else who had denied Jesus, such as Nicodemus or the rich young ruler, for example, we would not have been surprised. But it wasn’t someone like that; it was Peter—Peter, the leader of the disciples, the most outspoken one of all. The moral of that, you see, is that if Peter fell by denying the Lord—Peter, the strong one—then you and I can certainly deny Him, too, because we’re not stronger than Peter was. And if Peter turned his back on Jesus in the crisis, you and I are certainly capable of doing the same thing.
When you begin to think of who Peter was and what Peter had done during the three-year ministry, Peter does not emerge as a weak man, about whom you would think this was going to happen. Just think what can be said about him. The first thing you can say about Peter is that he had at least followed Jesus when he was arrested, when none of the others did. Oh, I know, I assume he must have been frightened, as they all were, and he must have scattered initially, as they all did, but he did stop. Then, when he saw that the arresting party was taking Jesus into Jerusalem, he turned on his heel, and he went after them because he wanted to see where they were taking Jesus, and he wanted to know what happened.
Secondly, Peter loved Jesus as a genuine disciple does. Otherwise, Peter would not have followed Him when prudence would have said to leave Jerusalem. Because of Peter’s love for Christ, he followed Jesus even into the courtyard of the high priest’s house. This was not a half-hearted disciple; this was a genuine one. In fact, it was out of this love that he tried to defend Jesus when they were in the garden of Gethsemane. The arresting party came, and Peter had a sword with him. When the men approached, he took it out and swung at a man by the name of Malchus, the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Now that was not what Jesus had wanted his disciples to do. Jesus proceeded to tell Peter to put the sword away, and then He healed the ear of Malchus.
What other passage is meant to provide encouragement as we think about what happened with Peter, and how a similar temptation could come to us?
What two points are made about Peter, which cause us to think he would not have fallen into the temptation to deny Christ?
Prayer: Ask the Lord to show you where you need to grow in your discipleship.