Luke 22:61-63 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.
This is of course a very famous incident in Scripture. There are several important lessons to be gained from it. The first is that none of us are immune to temptation. Paul cautioned against that himself, saying, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12) Conceit is a great weakness indeed. Peter had boldly said, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death,” (Luke 22:33) but when the moment came presenting that danger, he weaseled out. When it was a question of being “manly” and fighting, he drew his sword and struck out, but he was a pretty lousy swordsman, only managing to cut off an ear. That was what resulted from trying to stand for Jesus in his own strength. Here, simply in conversation, he failed completely. The second lesson is that God knows our sins even before we commit them, because He sees all of time. The Father knew Peter would do this at the point He told Jesus to include Peter with the Apostles, and Jesus knew it too, by the time they were in Gethsemane together. Nothing we ever do shocks God. In a very real sense we need to get over ourselves and know that God is greater than all of our weaknesses, as well as all of our problems. He can fix our problems, and He can fix us! The third major lesson from this is that genuine repentance is enough. When Judas was confronted with the sin of what he had done, he hung onto his pride and tried to “fix” the situation by killing himself, rather than surrendering fully to God for Him to mete out justice. Peter, on the other hand, wept bitterly and didn’t think he could redeem himself. He was right, we can’t redeem ourselves, but we do have a Redeemer who has already paid the price. However, we have to let go of our pride and repent, if we are going to receive that redemption. We may do something even on a par with Peter’s denial of Jesus, but if our repentance is as real as his was, we can still be as useful to God after the fact as Peter was.
This is another of those truths that I can’t just acknowledge in my mind; I have to apply it and live it out. I couldn’t begin to tally up all my sins, because I don’t even remember them all. The wonderful thing is, neither does God! When I repent in truth, those sins are washed from me by the blood of Jesus my Lord, and I am as clean as He is. I devoutly wish that I would never add to my tally of sins, but the simple reality of life as a weak human being in a fallen world precludes that. That’s one of many reasons I look forward to heaven! I am to be wise and avoid temptation, but not condemn myself just because I am tempted. It’s the devil who tries to get me to do that! I need to remember the truth in the hymn, “Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin.” It’s not the being tempted, it’s the yielding that is sinful. At the same time, I recognize my fleshly enjoyment of the temptation itself, and I’m to stand against that. I’m very grateful that repentance is accepted, but I want to need it as little as possible!
Father, thank You for the example of Peter. His example speaks to me in many ways. Help me indeed be as humble as he became after this, to be as available to You as he was, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!