Scripture: John 13:
37Peter asked, "Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you."
38Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
Observation: Even the strongest people of faith struggle.
Application: Peter was certain that he would do whatever it took to be with Jesus, even if he had to lay down his life to do it. But as we know when it came down to it, Peter denied Christ. We all like to think that we have a strong faith that would tear down any mountain that the world puts before us, but we can never be sure of how we will react in times of distress until that time is upon us.
I feel for Peter. His heart was in the right place and there is no doubt that he loved Jesus with every ounce of his being. It troubled him greatly that Jesus was right about this denial, but there is a lesson here for us I think.
How many times have you denied Christ? I’m sure it hasn’t been in such a dramatic way as Peter. But anytime we put our love of Jesus and our faith in God aside for the sake of fitting in with the world we are doing just that. I confess that there have been times when I have done this, times when it just wasn’t convenient for me to be a Christian because of those around me. Yes – times when I should have spoken up and stood by Jesus even though I would have been laughed at, or mocked, or argued with, times when it would have caused a conflict that I didn’t feel like dealing with and I have been guilty of being silent.
“I would never deny Christ!” I can hear you saying it, or maybe you’re thinking about it and just can’t imagine ever backing down from your faith under any circumstance. And I pray for strength for all who ever utter those words or think those thoughts because I want you to be right. I pray that when the time comes for your faith to be tested by fire that you will shine forth as purest silver. But, at the same time I want to tell the rest of us that there is good news for those who have at times not spoken up, or have denied the faith in some way. Because even when Christ was telling Peter about the coming of the roosters crow, he had already forgive him for what he was about to do.
This moment of weakness did not negate the fact that Peter “The Rock” was going to be one of the founding fathers, and pillars of the early church. St. Peter’s cathedral in Rome is a lasting tribute to this great man of faith who at one time under duress and in fear denied knowing the living God. He bounced back and I think that this was a defining moment for Peter who when being martyred on a cross, as tradition has it, asked to be crucified upside down because he did not deserve to die in the same manner as Jesus did. When the time came Peter stayed strong in the faith, and stood up to the harshest of tests.
May we who have at times fell short of being rock solid be strengthened now so that when the trials come at us again we may stand strong and firm on the foundation of Jesus Christ our Rock and salvation. Forgive us when we don’t do the things we should, and when we do the things we should not do. Grant us the time to grow into the people of faith that you would have us be, and to develop the strong faith we will need in our time of true testing.