Peter failed—but Jesus' had a big job for him to get right

Posted Jun 11, 2021

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Daily Scripture

Matthew 26:31-35

31 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Tonight you will all fall away because of me. This is because it is written, I will hit the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will go off in all directions [Zechariah 13:7]. 32 But after I’m raised up, I’ll go before you to Galilee.”

33 Peter replied, “If everyone else stumbles because of you, I’ll never stumble.”

34 Jesus said to him, “I assure you that, before the rooster crows tonight, you will deny me three times.”

35 Peter said, “Even if I must die alongside you, I won’t deny you.” All the disciples said the same thing.

Matthew 26:69-75

69 Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant woman came and said to him, “You were also with Jesus the Galilean.”

70 But he denied it in front of all of them, saying, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

71 When he went over to the gate, another woman saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.”

72 With a solemn pledge, he denied it again, saying, “I don’t know the man.”

73 A short time later those standing there came and said to Peter, “You must be one of them. The way you talk gives you away.”

74 Then he cursed and swore, “I don’t know the man!” At that very moment the rooster crowed. 75 Peter remembered Jesus’ words, “Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.” And Peter went out and cried uncontrollably.

John 21:15-19

15 When they finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 He asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 I assure you that when you were younger you tied your own belt and walked around wherever you wanted. When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and another will tie your belt and lead you where you don’t want to go.” 19 He said this to show the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. After saying this, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.”

Reflection Questions

Frustrated, Barley Lightfoot exclaimed, “It’s not fair to call me a screwup if you don’t give me a chance to do something right.” * After swearing he didn’t know Jesus (despite boastfully swearing he’d never stumble even if everyone else did) Peter “cried uncontrollably” as he saw how terribly he had screwed up. Jesus didn’t discard Peter, though. He gave him a chance to affirm his love three times, and gave him the chance to do the crucial task of “feed(ing) my lambs.” And Peter did it right.

  • One self-examination question John Wesley, Methodism’s founder, urged people to regularly ask (and answer) was, “Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am?” Do you think Peter was, in some measure, trying to convince Jesus, the other disciples (and maybe himself) that he was better than he really was? When do you find the same tug at work in your own life?
  • John 21:17 said, “Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’” Why did Jesus know it was important, even if painful, for Peter to “undo” his triple denial? Have you ever found it painful to face issues that keep you from following God fully? What makes it worth working through that pain with God (and a wise counselor, when necessary) instead of avoiding it?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you know me better than I know myself. Guide me today and every day, nudging and challenging me as you did Peter to become more fully the person you call me to be. Amen.


* Onward quote from https://lolalambchops.com/

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Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group and a men’s group, and serves on the curriculum team.

As we consider today’s passages, I thought it might be helpful to “visit” with Miss Sheree Stohr, owner & proprietor of the antique restoration shoppe, “The Good Buy Girl.”

DL: Miss Stohr, thanks for taking the time. What exactly do you do here?

Ree Stohr: Please, my friends call me Ree. We do all sorts of restoration projects for a very diverse clientele. We’ve done big projects like an emergency restoration in London for Big Ben’s 160th Anniversary Party 2 years ago. Needless to say, we had to work around the clock. We also do small projects like repairing a very valuable 1875 world globe. It was missing a lot of markings, like the equator, so we had to draw the line on that one. However, when it comes to paintings & artwork, we specialize in only one era – if it ain’t Baroque, we won’t fix it.

DL: What stands out to you in today’s passages?

Ree Stohr: Since I love all rehabiliation/restoration projects, these passages are some of my all-time favorites. Peter gives us a 3-Act play:

  • Act 1: You & me, Jesus, all the way!
  • Act 2: Jesus? No, can’t say I’ve heard of Him.
  • Act 3: Jesus forgives & redeems the repentant Peter.

This is a powerful example of a believer who errs & is then forgiven. I would submit that John records this scene for future believers to understand the power & the need for Christ’s grace.

I have a pet theory about this scene. I think that during this beach side buffet, Jesus also has a private conversation with each of the other disciples as well. Remember, they, too, had abandoned Jesus in various ways that fateful Thursday night & they would also need to know that their own shortcomings had been forgiven as well.

DL: That’s some fun speculation. I would suggest that this little vignette has several other intriguing theological concepts:

  • Sometimes we are tempted to limit our thinking of Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross only in regard to our eternal soul. However, this scene makes it very clear that Jesus anticipates that in the midst of a typical faithwalk, we will all need lots of grace to atone for our mistakes & miscues.
  • Peter becomes a great leader of Christ’s church, even though he wasn’t a perfect believer. Jesus makes it very clear here that everyone can have a role in building His Kingdom, even people who have goofed up. (I could make a strong argument that the redeemed Peter would actually become a more effective leader of the church precisely because he had been in need of Christ’s grace.)
  • In this scene Jesus pointedly assures Peter that he has been completely & totally forgiven for his denials that Thursday night. So, Peter’s actions on behalf of Christ from here on out aren’t to try to score some imaginary points to atone for his sins, but rather in appreciation for Christ’s love for him. A remarkably unique attitude: not serving out of guilt, but out of love.

So, what might this mean for us today? While we may not have denied Christ as dramatically as Peter had, I would suggest that we, too, have fallen short of His expectations. Maybe we were to be Christ’s ears as a friend shares their heartfelt concerns, but we didn’t take the time to truly listen. Perhaps we were to be Christ’s hands, but we were too busy to help someone in need. Or possibly we were to hear & ponder Christ’s words in a Bible study, but we let our everyday routines get in the way. The Good News, as displayed here, is that we can go to Christ with a repentant heart, receive His undeserved grace, & once again play a vital role in His Kingdom.

Ree Stohr: Wow. With apologies to Annette Funicello, THIS is the best beach party ever! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an emergency to attend to – a couch with white upholstery has a massive grape juice stain.

DL: Yikes. How is it going?

Ree Stohr: It’s recovering nicely.

DL: Thanks for your time.

*For our younger readers who have never pried ice out of a metal ice cube tray, Annette Funicello was a popular singer/actress who starred in a series of beach-themed movies in the 1960’s – Editor.

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