by Myckelle P. Williams
Matt 26: 31-35
“Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
Why is it that sometimes we are so ‘assured’ of our own Goodness? We are positive, and swear up and down that there are some things we will just NEVER do. We have the upmost confidence in ourselves as a person, a Christian, a citizen. We make promises that we will always be faithful and true. We claim to love and believe in God, and profess to be ‘Super-Christians’ who do no wrong. We maintain that confidence…until circumstances overwhelm us…and then we do the very thing that we always promised us we would NEVER do!
Like the person who was raised around a drug abuser. They saw the impact that those drugs had on them, and vowed that they would never use drugs. Yet, years later, when they are under severe stress and struggle, they start to self-medicate as they saw people before them.
Or the person who was raised in a broken home who says ‘I will never do what my dad did to my mom. HE cheated and left her and broke our family apart.’ And years later, they find themselves abandoning their own family, or involved in adultery.
Or the abused child who went through the trauma of being assaulted repeatedly, and vowed that their children would never suffer as they did, only to repeat the same cycle years later, lashing out when they feel rage or stress that they feel they can’t control.
Peter made these same vows to Jesus himself. He said ‘even if I have to DIE with you, I will never disown you.” In other words, He was telling Jesus, ‘Man, I got your BACK!’
We all know the rest of the story. Before the rooster crowed the never NEXT DAY, Peter was angrily swearing up and down that he didn’t know Jesus at all. Broken Promises.
Matt 26: 75- “Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
After we commit our own offenses, we are filled with guilt, condemnation and shame. Like Peter, we cry our eyes out in regret at the Broken Promises. We curse ourselves and our flesh. We are angry and bitter that we have allowed our flesh and the temptations of the enemy to conquer us. We knew better, and yet…we continued to do what we said that he would never do. We can almost hear the enemy pointing and laughing, “Haha you aint no CHRISTIAN!”
So WHY do we do it in the first place!?!?
Paul recognized the power of the flesh and sin when he wrote in Romans 7:
“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”
- It is the frustrated words that we all speak when we get caught up in an act of sin that we tried so hard to avoid.
There have been so many times in my life when I vowed never to yell, never to fight, never to cheat, never to lie, never to do anything that would destroy my relationship with God or my family. I made promises to myself and God that I did not keep. Sure, I had the best intentions. And every time I became overly confident in my own ability, I slipped and cursed myself and my flesh, weeping with tears and anger. Pride always comes before a fall.
One of the youth on our LIVE Teen Bible study, Mario, did a great study this week on Pride vs. Humility. He stressed that Pride is our confidence in OURSELVES, while Humility is giving all honor and credit to GOD. We should only be confident in the ability that God has given us, in the person we are through HIM, in the situations we are in because of HIS Grace, in the way that we live because we draw strength from HIM. And we should never look down on someone else because they haven’t reached the mark that we have. That is another form of pride that can cause us to fall into sin.
Gal 6: 1-3: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.”
We also have to realize that even when we commit an offense, although Satan will attempt to use these things against us to keep us from repentance, God’s grace still prevails. We have all broken promises that we feel we can never be forgiven from doing.
Let’s see what happened to Peter later on:
John 21: 4-8
After Jesus dies and is resurrected:
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed
At this moment, although Peter felt as if he failed God by breaking his promise to Him, he still leaps out and runs to him. Most of us would have hidden at the bottom of the boat, hoping Jesus woudn’t notice him, praying that he wouldn’t ‘call him out’ for denying him three times. When Adam sinned he ran and hid from God, instead of towards him. Peter leaped out of the boat first and ran straight to Jesus..as we should do whenever we disappoint or fail him.
When Peter came face to face with Jesus for the first time since denying him, what did Jesus say? Did he frown at them all and say “Well, well well!! Why did you guys leave me? Do you know what I went through? I thought you were my friends, my bothers. You abandoned me when I needed you most!!”
Although he had all rights to feel angry and betrayed, He didn’t point to Peter and say, ‘Man, Peter, you disappointed me most of all. Hypocrite! You are the one who swore to stick by me and die beside me. Instead, I died next to two strangers! Where were you when I needed you? I TOLD you that you would deny me!!” …No, that’s our human reaction.
He didn’t say any of that. Instead, Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” vs 21:12
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”
He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”- John 21: 15-17
Just like Peter denied him three times, now he was asked to confess love for him three times. Jesus never reminded him of his previous vow, but only asked him to take care of his followers from now on. See, God doesn’t harp over our past failures, but continues to remind us that we are loved, and valuable in the Kingdom and still yet have a work to do. He didn’t ask Peter’s motives. All of Jesus questions are designed to get to THE HEART of the matter.
Peter did eventually die for Christ. He was killed professing the Word, because at that point, he realized the power of Gods loving Grace and Mercy, and spent the rest of his life making up for it.
We have two choices when we sin: we can run and hide from God as Adam and Eve did, and live a cursed life full of struggle and separation, or we can run back into his loving, forgiving arms, and allow him to restore us, and continue to do the work that he has called us to do. Where is our heart when it comes to loving and serving God, even after we may sin or backslide?
I have been in situations where I have sinned, and done the very things that I never thought I would do. I was almost so shamed and condemned that I gave in and ran and hid, hoping my problems would just go away. But the difference is, I picked myself up, and like Peter, ran back into his loving arms, with prayer and repentance. I accepted his unconditional love, and didn’t let the condemnation or the Devil or family members cause me to run and hide from his Grace and Mercy. I got right back into the position that he called me to be in.
It’s not about ME. It was never about me to begin with. I have decided now to keep pushing forward with God’s plans for me, despite my own failures and shortcomings. You can do it too.
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.” –Heb 13:5
God says this to us, but unlike Peter, and he doesn’t lie, or betray us in HIS Promises. So we can be assured that even when we have lied and broken our words to Him, He continues to stand by our side.
Regardless of what you have done in the past, He still is there for and with you, and He asks you the same simple question today:
“Do you love me?”
If you answer is “Yes”, (You don’t need to swear and make promises)
Here is his simple reply:
“FEED MY SHEEP.”