Today's scripture focus passage: Luke 22:54-62 - Jesus' Arrest
Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance. After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was sitting among them. And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him too.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” A little later, another saw him and said, “You are one of them too!” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, saying, “Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.How crushing must Jesus' gaze have been at that moment! I cannot imagine the weight of guilt on Peter's shoulders.
I have always felt that Peter's betrayal hurt Jesus so much more than Judas' ever did. Somehow, it's just on a whole different level. But I think this is why Peter's story give us such hope and encouragement. That he could mess up on such a grand scale, yet be completely forgiven and have Jesus essentially name him the cornerstone for the future Church, is absolutely mind-blowing! MacArthur offers us this hope while looking back and tracing Peter's steps down the path towards spiritual overconfidence:
Peter’s footprints are left in the sand for us. Self-confidence, warm feelings of affections toward Jesus, Peter thought were enough for him to be able to handle any temptation. It was his self-confidence that led to his insubordination. He refused to accept and yield to the warning words of Christ. He didn’t take the word of His Lord seriously. He rejected reproof. He ignored the voice of God and that led to prayerlessness. He slept because he didn’t need to pray. He omitted spiritual duty and that led to independence. He reacted by taking out a sword and charting his own course without ever considering the Word of the Lord and that led to compromise. He wound up far off, sitting with the enemies of the Lord. A compromising course that led him to mingle with the enemy and brought him all the way down to defeat.We know this isn't the end of this particular story. If we only had the first three Gospels, we'd never know that, but thankfully, the Holy Spirit prompted John to include its conclusion: Peter's restoration and re-commissioning by Jesus after the resurrection. And look at Peter's own last recorded words in the Bible:
Sure, this was the darkest hour in human history. This was hell’s hour. This was Satan’s hour. And Peter fell victim to it. He was no match. He underestimated the power of evil in his own flesh. He had reached the top. He had been called by Christ, loved by Christ, received the keys to the Kingdom, sharing in miracle power, leader of the Twelve, privileged preacher of the Good News, fallen to the pit of falsehood and profanity, denying his Lord.
And we really shudder at this. It’s just an unbelievable thing. And we wouldn't be surprised if Peter was another Judas and went out and hanged himself. But this is no Judas and his faith will not fail. The true Peter is seen not in his fall but in his recovery, for this is not a story of final failure, like Judas. This is a story of restoration. It was his love for Christ that broke his heart. It was his love for Christ that made him weep bitterly. It was his love for Christ that made him contrite, penitent, broken. The coward is conquered by love for Christ. And so that’s not the end of the story, that’s the end of Luke’s record in verse 62, but that is not the end of the story. The way down is not the end of the story.
Satan would want to bring a soul to the point of despair so that he plunges himself into hell as Judas did without repentance. But our Lord seeks to bring a soul to the point of despair so that he cries for forgiveness and mercy and by repentance, finds heaven. This is true repentance.
It’s not really our sins that makes us weep. Oh, they have a part in it. But for Peter it wasn’t just his sin that made him weep, it is when we see the kind of Savior we have sinned against that really makes us weep. (emphasis added)
“Be on your guard lest being carried away by the error of unprincipled men you fall from your own steadfastness.”Peter had learned the lesson. He knew firsthand we have a faith that cannot fail, but he knew our steadfastness still can ~ and so often does ~ and so he warns us to be on our guard. Don't sleep when you should be praying. Don't be spiritually overconfident. None of us is immune to weakness.
But praise God, thanks to Peter's story ~ the one he'd probably rather not have had recorded for all time in the Scriptures ~ we have FULL assurance of grace, forgiveness, and complete restoration when we repent.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year reading: Revelation 3; Hosea 5-6
Monday's scripture focus passage: Luke 22:63-71