Discover His heart: He prays that we will remain faithful in the face of temptation
I told my children when they were young that if they were accused of something by someone, they needed to understand one thing: I knew that it was possible for them to be guilty. I would hope in my heart that it wasn’t true, but I would seek out the truth. I imagine this mindset came from serving for decades in youth ministry and encountering the moms or dads who refused to believe that their son or daughter could be guilty of anything. Be assured, this attitude did not serve their children well. In this same way, I believe that it is possible for me to fail in any sin, but I hope in my heart that I will not. Peter, however, was in denial…on two counts.
In the timeline before His death, Jesus was approaching Calvary and had just shared a time of fellowship and instruction at the Last Supper. From the Gospels, we know that Jesus declared to His disciples that they would all desert Him during this time of trial. This news was met with opposition by Peter, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” (Luke 14:33-34) “No!’ Peter declared emphatically. ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!’” (Mark 14:31)
I would have thought that Peter was mature enough by this time to know that never and always are fighting words in any setting. When we say in a dialogue, “I always…I never…you always…you never,” we should get ready to rumble. Satan was right there to take Peter on. In fact, Jesus had just predicted it. “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” (31-32) But when the moment came to accept the Lord’s warning and proceed with caution, Peter felt he was too committed to the Lord, too strong to fail. He thought he would never deny the Lord.
Of course, we know that he did deny Him; then, after the third denial, “And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: ‘Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.” (61-62)
When the enemy throws a temptation my way to deny the Lord or to fail Him, I hope I will remember the failure that followed Peter’s arrogance. Paul expressed it this way in I Corinthians 10:12-13, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” We will never see the way out that the Lord provides if we think we would never need it. It just won’t be on our radar. And may I add, the thought of the Lord looking at me in the midst of my failure as He did with Peter is one I can hardly bear.
The good news in this story for Peter as well as for us is that Jesus is praying for us when we face temptation (32), and if we accept His help with humility, we will be victorious. Peter repented and went on to be an influential leader in the emerging church, proving that there is hope for all of us!
Moving Forward: What an assurance I have that in the face of any temptation Jesus is praying for me to remain faithful. I move forward today accepting His prayer and His cautions with the knowledge that He’s looking at me.
Tomorrow @ I Thessalonians 1-3