A Tale of Two Peters

Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You." Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times." ~John 13:37-38

Peter had walked with Christ in person for three years. He had lived with Him, ate with Him, and learned from Him personally. The Author of all Creation walked the earth and Peter knew Him intimately. He was absolutely devoted to Jesus and I believe he very much meant what he said when he declared that he would lay down his life for Jesus' sake. He was absolutely sincere yet, when the time came and Jesus was being led away to be tortured and killed, Peter panicked. Exactly as Jesus had predicted, Peter denied even knowing Jesus three times.

This story invites us to examine ourselves and to question our own convictions. Many of us say that we are committed to Christ, even to death, and we are sincere when we say it. But is it actually true? Peter after all, arguably Jesus' closest disciple, lost heart when the chips were down. In fact, it wasn't just Peter - all the disciples fled - but it was Peter that specifically claimed the he would stay true even to death. If they who walked with Jesus couldn't remain faithful when times got tough then what makes us think we're so different? Well, Peter's story doesn't end there.

Just prior to His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples that it was actually better for them that He go away so that He could send the the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower the church (John 14:16-17 & John 16:5-11). Get ahold of that concept for a minute. It is better to be apart from Jesus but have the Holy Spirit than to live with Jesus personally. That is a difficult concept for most of us. I personally feel a little jealous of the disciples and their ability to learn from Jesus, to ask Him questions, and to just sit and listen to Him teach. How could it possibly be better for Him to go away? The answer can be found in Peter, or rather in the tale of two Peters.

Up to this point in the story Peter was a lovable and loyal yet often bumbling follower. He was dedicated and his heart was in the right place but he often engaged his mouth before he engaged his brain. He fluctuated from  being grandly praised by Jesus for his insight one minute to being harshly rebuked for his presumption the next minute (Matthew 16:13-23). He made heartfelt and bold proclamations of faith when in the safety of Jesus' presence yet cowered and hid when the heat was applied.

Yet then, after Jesus ascended to heaven, something dramatic happened to Peter and to all the disciples. Suddenly they were no longer cowering in houses hiding from the Jews and from the Romans. They were no longer questioning and doubting. They began to go out into the streets and boldly proclaim the message of salvation. Peter - the very same Peter that ran and hid denying Christ - stood in the center of Jerusalem before the very people that crucified Jesus and loudly proclaimed Jesus to the crowds with such power that 3000 people were saved (Acts 2:14-47). After that event Peter was never the old bumbling Peter again. While he did still make some mistakes (Galatians 2:11-21) he was forever changed and enlightened from the moment that he received and was filled by the Holy Spirit. He lived the rest of his life with a power and a conviction that he even took to his own death on his own cross still loudly and boldly proclaiming the name of Jesus.

As you look at your own life, which Peter do you resemble most? Does your life most resemble the Peter following after Jesus with good intentions but never seeming to fully grasp the truth or does your life resemble the Peter filled with the Holy Spirit and shining with the power of the living God inside him?  Would you risk your job, your friends, relationship with your family, your possessions, or even your very life to boldly proclaim the truth of Jesus? If you answered yes, then does your life show any evidence of that conviction? Too often when I look at my own life I see much more of the first Peter than the second one in me. Let us pray together that we would allow ourselves to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that we would boldly go wherever He would lead us no matter the cost.

For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. ~1 Thessalonians 1:5


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