Peter was taken aback by the statement of Jesus in Luke 22:31: “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.” Of course, Simon Peter fully believed to be up to the challenge and responded, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”
Jesus knows us – He REALLY knows us. He knows our strengths and weaknesses even better than we do ourselves. There are times when we feel we can’t be strong enough to overcome sin or remain faithful through suffering. Jesus says we CAN do it (1 Co 10:13). Probably even more dangerous are the times when we are like Peter – we think we are so strong that we could never sin or deny Christ (1 Co 10:12). Not only are these times dangerous because we will be blind to pitfalls, but it will put us in the position of “denying denial” (that is, refusing to admit error because we don’t think it is even possible!). Peter denied denial before it even happened, so Jesus responded, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me” (Lk 22:34).
There is more to the lesson in this text than just the failure of Peter. Notice especially what Jesus said in Luke 22:32: “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
- Peter’s denial of Jesus was a failure to use his faith
- The failure to use one’s faith doesn’t mean that faith itself doesn’t work (a parachutist who doesn’t pull the rip cord does not die from parachute failure)
- Peter’s faith worked because it brought him back to Christ (notice that his sin DID separate him from Christ – he had to “return”)
- Even though Peter openly denied Jesus, Jesus still wanted Peter to return to Him. Peter rejected Christ, but Christ was always willing to accept Peter back
- In spite of what Peter did, Jesus had work for him to do when he “returned”
I’m not really writing about Peter, but about us. We surely can see ourselves in the above scenario as we constantly struggle to do what is right. The lessons are about confession (not denial), faith (that seeks forgiveness), and the work God calls each of us to do.