Luke 22:31-34 (NIV)
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of 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.”
Luke 22:54-62 (NIV)
Peter Disowns Jesus
Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there 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.
Impulsive. Brash. A willing, faithful servant to Jesus. These words could describe Peter or Simon Peter as he was sometimes referred to.
In this passage from Luke, Jesus knows Simon Peter all too well when he predicts that Peter’s faith will fail him. He already knows his response and how he will act on it. Peter suffers from an affliction called “foot-in-mouth disease”. How many of us have had to eat our words? Peter’s hasty, impassioned reply that he will go with Jesus to prison, even death, is another example of this disease. That’s Peter. The most zealous, boisterous, verbal of the twelve disciples. Blurting words out before thinking them through.
He loves Jesus so much that he follows Jesus from a distance when he is led away to the high priest. Three different times he is asked if he knows this man. Being human and afraid, he denies Jesus. When the cock crows, the Lord looks at Peter. With egg on his face, Peter remembers the words of Jesus that he will disown knowing him. Peter leaves and weeps bitterly. Tears of great remorse.
Peter. The disciple who boldly dropped his fishing nets along with Andrew and followed Jesus. How could he do this? He turned away. But Jesus prayed that his faith would not fail him and that he would turn back and strengthen his brothers. And that he did.
He became a leading spokesman for Jesus, preaching and healing. Churches, cathedrals, basilicas bear his name. Jesus referred to Peter as his “rock”.
We, too, praise God and yet turn away. We are saints and sinners and can relate to Peter’s humanness. It is God’s boundless compassion that forgives us and turns us back. He strengthens us to go out and share His love and compassion to others. Begin today by “paying it forward” just as Peter did.
Thank you for your boundless compassion when we fail and fall short. Forgive us when our sinful natures get it the way. Turn us back and equip us to “pay it forward.”
Written by Janece Nelson
Janece and husband, Mike, have been members of Sheridan for eleven years. Janece is a retired mathematics instructor teaching at the middle school and college level. They are blessed with two children and three grandchildren (ages 7-13). Janece finds her greatest joy in spending time with her family and friends. Her passion is writing devotions for patients in hospitals and rehabs she sees every Monday as a Sheridan hospital visitor. As a Teammate, she also mentors girls at Boys Town. Janece credits Faith Builders and Companions in Christ for her spiritual growth.