Fair warning: this is a long post. However, it may be worth reading. You decide.
He is the Son of God, the Lamb of God, our Messiah, our Savior. And He is alive!!
Easter is such an exciting season. I try my hardest every Christmas and Easter to fully grasp and understand what these "seasons" mean...I try to understand the huge sacrifice God made in giving His only Son, Jesus, and then to think that He willingly died for my sins - He died for me.
This year, when I think about Easter, I can't seem to get the story of Peter out of my mind. He keeps coming up again and again as I attempt to understand the gravity of what happened those many years ago when Jesus died and then was made alive again. Why does Peter come to mind? He isn't my Savior - he isn't my Lord. He didn't die for me. But, his own personal story of when Jesus died has been teaching me a lot this Easter season.
Read with me...
Background Info: This first part takes place at the Last Supper in Luke after the disciples have disputed first over who will betray Jesus, and then over which of them is the greatest.
Luke 22:31-34 ... [Jesus says,] "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."
But he replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death."
Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know Me."
So, in this passage, we see Jesus giving Peter a warning - a prophesy of sorts - about his (Peter's) future actions. At first, Peter says that no, he will not turn his back on Jesus, his faith will not fail. He said he was willing to go to jail with Jesus, and then even said he was willing to die with [for] Him. But then Jesus gives Peter a very specific way that his faith will fail. Before the rooster crows, Peter will deny his friendship with Jesus (well, not just his friendship with Him, but that he even knew Him). Jesus didn't say this would happen just once, but three times - three times before the rooster crows.
Let's see what happens...
BG Info again: Between these two passages of scripture, Jesus takes his disciples to the Mount of Olives to pray (I love in verse 39 of Luke 22 when it says that Jesus went out as usual to the Mt. of Olives. In other words, He was in the habitual practice of going to talk with God - to spend time in prayer with Him ... are you? hmm). While there, Judas comes with some Roman soldiers to arrest Jesus. Judas "outs" Jesus by kissing his cheek (my preschool Sunday school class giggles at this part every time!). Jesus is arrested and taken to the house of the high priest.
Luke 22:54-62 ... Then seizing Him, they led Him away and took Him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, "This man was with Him."
But he denied it, "Woman, I don't know Him," he said.
A little later someone else saw him and said, "You also are one of them."
"Man, I am not!" Peter replied.
About an hour later another asserted, "Certainly this fellow was with Him, for he is a Galilean."
Peter replied, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him, "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown Me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Wow. Think of the anguish Peter must have felt when he remembered Jesus' words to him. It says that Peter went outside and wept bitterly. I'm sure it wasn't exactly macho of men to weep bitterly back in the day, but Peter's heart was filled with such great sadness that he couldn't contain it.
Let's relate this to our own lives for a second. In the first passage that I shared with you, Jesus confronts Peter and tells him that Satan is going to be biting at his heels to get him to slip up and sin. Peter looks at Jesus and says that there is no way this could happen because he was committed and devoted to Jesus and to being His disciple - even if faced with jail time and death. Jesus was persistent though, and said he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed. Step back and think about your life really quick. Has the Holy Spirit ever convicted you about something that you're doing - or even about something that you're just thinking about doing - OR even just something that you don't see yourself doing, but you're human and it could happen anyways? Hopefully you can say yes because this is how God speaks to us and leads us to walk in His will. What is your response to this? Do you dismiss it, maybe think about it for awhile and then dismiss it, or do you actually heed the warning and pray to God and rely on His strength to get you through this "trial" and temptation?
What did Peter do? He denied that it would happen, received a second warning, and then we know what happened after that. In the second passage I shared, we see how Peter really did deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. Did Peter remember Jesus' warning the first time? The second time? The third? No. He didn't remember at all until he made eye contact with Jesus right as the rooster was crowing. Do you think Peter just dismissed what Jesus said and carried on as normal? Maybe. Maybe not though. Peter may have been troubled by the warning for awhile, but then things got crazy with the soldiers coming to arrest Jesus, Judas betraying Him, and then Jesus being taken away.
Sometimes we are convicted and warned by the Holy Spirit about certain sins in our lives, or even sins that aren't there yet but have the potential of becoming a part of us. These convictions may make us stop and think for awhile, but the most important thing is what we do after those initial moments of being convicted. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the "things of life" that we forget the lessons that the Holy Spirit has taught us through God's Word and time spent with Him in prayer. I know there have been the Holy Spirit has brought something to my attention, and I haven't exactly done much about it. Or I've not been in the situation, but the Holy Spirit will show me how I should stay away from the situation, and then I still step into it anyways.
God gave us the Holy Spirit as a helper, a guide until we meet Him again. Jesus was the disciples Teacher, helper, and guide. And although He is very much so alive and not bound by the chains of death any longer (woo!!!), God sent us the Holy Spirit as Jesus isn't not able to walk beside us and teach us like He could with the disciples.
Could Peter have remained strong in his faith and not deny Jesus that day? Certainly. If he was trusting in God's strength and not letting his human mind carry him all over the place, he could have very well not have denied Jesus. But then, Peter would have not realized his extreme need for forgiveness and a Savior. I think sometimes God can use our sinful moments to truly show us our desperate need for a Savior - and that's when Easter becomes very clear. We are not deserving, but He is still so very giving and forgiving.
So, this Easter season, as we take time to be still and rejoice in the active life of Jesus, don't forget to heed the Holy Spirit's warnings. And take a moment to revisit the times in your life that you know you were not heeding the Holy Spirit's convictions. Take a moment to realize your extreme need for a Savior.
Maybe then we'll be able to grasp the very real forgiveness that took place on that very first Easter weekend.