EXPLORING THE WORD
"Who do you say that I am?"
By Laurel J. Davis
See Laurel's blog at The Reluctant First Lady
Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father, who is in heaven.Strong words from Jesus (Matthew 10:33; Luke 12:9).
But wait! The Apostle Peter denied Jesus, not just once but three times! So has Jesus denied even Peter — one of the twelve original apostles, a primary figure in the founding and growth of the early Christian Church (Acts 2, 10), and writer of two books of His Holy Word (1 and 2 Peter)?
The answer is of course, no. In fact, the lesson of Peter is so beautifully unfolded in Scripture that we can't help but be touched by the mighty, gracious and redemptive way God deals with all of us — mere humans like Peter that we are.
The night of His arrest, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him three times that very night before the cock crows. Peter claimed he would never be offended because of Christ and that even if he had to die with Christ, he would never deny Him (e.g., Matthew 26:31-35). But several hours later he did deny Him, three times. Then immediately he heard the cock crow, which reminded him of what Jesus had said, and so he wept bitterly (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; John 18:15-17,25-27; etc.).
Peter's wrong was that he did a lot of talking about how much he'd do for the Lord even in the face of death...until things started getting too close for comfort. Like the rest of the disciples, Peter now feared for his life for real. Unlike the others, who scattered and fled, Peter at least hung around to see what was going to happen, but didn't want to be recognized.
Peter failed at that moment to live up to his words. He lost sight for a moment of the bigger picture of the redemptive work of His Lord because of all the commotion and fear surrounding Jesus' arrest. The cock's crow was a wake-up call like none other: "And he went out and wept bitterly" (Matthew 26:75).
One morning after His resurrection, as He sat on the shore with Peter and a few other disciples, Jesus asked Peter three times, "Do you love Me?" Each time Peter answered, "Yes, Lord..." And each time Jesus then commanded Peter, "Feed My sheep" (John 21:15-17; lambs is used the first time). Notice the precise uniformity of threes. This conversation took place during Christ's third appearance to His disciples after His resurrection (John 21:14). Jesus gave Peter three opportunities to repent — one for each denial — and then three corresponding opportunities to follow through: "Feed My lambs...Feed My sheep...Feed My sheep." Jesus said, "He that has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves Me..." (John 14:21).
It's interesting that Peter did not deny who Jesus is but denied that he was Jesus' close disciple. He had already honestly confessed Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of the Living God" earlier (Matthew 16:16; cf. Matthew 10:32-33). Peter is in eternal fellowship with God because of God's grace that brought Peter to a confession of Jesus as Lord, a confession that led him through a powerful ministry and ultimately to his death by crucifixion upside-down. When Jesus asked Peter the question, "Do you love Me?", He already knew Peter loved Him. Indeed, He already also knew that 1) Peter would deny Him, 2) he would repent, and 3) he would still serve Him. Peter even said that third time, "Lord, You know all things; You know I love you."
Jesus knows how you feel about Him, too. Do you love Him? Do you confess Him as Lord, as Christ, the Son of the Living God? If so, then fear not! Lift up Jesus in your heart, mind and life, and He will empower you to do mighty things for His glory!
Image Credit: James Tissot; "The First Denial of Saint Peter"; Public Domain
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | Jesus-Christ
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Published on 2-3-16