Are we hesitating like Peter who, though he wanted to walk on water, kept taking his eyes off Jesus?
Well, you might argue, at least he got out of the boat. Being willing and stepping out in faith…that’s half the battle.
God had great plans for Peter, as He has for all His people. Peter’s story is a great illustration of how we can fumble the ball time and again, repent, learn and grow from our mistakes, and in the end, come out glorious.
Look at the brilliant foreshadowing of God’s plan for Peter…we see it first during Peter’s second encounter with Jesus, when Jesus miraculously filled Peter’s nets with fish. Someday, Peter and the other apostles would be reaping similarly in men. And second, Jesus tells Peter in Matthew:13-19,
“You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”
But he had a lot to learn first. Don’t we all?
Peter was always willing and enthusiastic, but had a few lessons to learn about follow through God-style.
- he repeatedly relied on and underestimated the weakness of his flesh (Luke 22:33, Luke 22:50-51)
- he allowed sin and stress to distance him from his Saviour (Luke 22:54)
It’s usually through our weaknesses that Christ is glorified. Look how many times in the OT he used the weak to confound the strong (David and Goliath; Esther, Mordacai and Haman). Only by relying on Him in our weakest moments do we truly appreciate His strength. But we get our eyes off Him so easily and onto our seemingly hopeless circumstances. Then there’s the way we sometimes act as if we know better than God. If you study Peter, you’ll see him do this many times. But I digress.
In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus tells Peter that Satan has demanded permission to sift him as wheat. In verse 33, Peter responds adamantly,
“Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.”
Really? This is when Jesus has to break it to him that before the cock crows, Peter will deny Him three times. But the awesome part of this passage is what Jesus said in verse 32,
“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Okay, Peter is converted, this we know. Jesus means: when all is said and done, and Peter’s faith is stronger, then he can strengthen other people. Survivors of miscarriage and infertility can minister hope to those in similar situations. Survivors of drug/alcohol addiction, of sexual abuse, of personal losses, can identify with the pain and hurt and healing and their testimony has impact!
The other beautiful thing about verse 32, is that Jesus is our intercessor. You may feel alone (like Elijah), but even if no one on earth is praying for you, you can trust that Jesus is. Jesus prayed for Peter’s faith even before Peter failed Him. He knows our future and prays specifics for us. Who else can do that?
John 17:9, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.”
The second mistake Peter makes is distancing himself from Jesus. It begins when he cuts off the ear of the servant of the high priest, during Jesus’ arrest. He allows his impetuousness to overrule what Jesus would have wanted. Then he follows Jesus from afar. There’s that distance, and it got him in trouble. Not only did he distance himself, he planted himself with Jesus’ accusers:
Luke 22:54-55, “Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.”
His sins are piling up on him, despite himself. When his denials are complete he locks eyes with Jesus and runs outside to weep. What a lesson.
But restoration came to Peter. He was the first apostle that Jesus sought once resurrected (Luke 24:34). Interestingly, Jesus called him Simon (his original name, not Peter, his God-given name). Finally, at the Sea of Galilee, in John 21, Jesus grills Peter three times as to whether or not he loves him. (Three times for the three denials?) Then Jesus commissions Peter to feed His sheep.
And suddenly Peter takes off. He preaches at the Day of Pentecost and three thousand are saved, he heals the lame man, he’s miraculously delivered from prison despite being chained to two guards and under the watch of four squads of soldiers, he authors New Testament books… These are only a few Biblical glimpses into the man of faith that Peter became. Wow, he’s almost flip-flopped from the man he was before Christ’s resurrection.
He’s learned to let the Rock deal with the crashing waves of life. Oh the ripple effect our faith-walk has on those walking on sinking sands…
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power that strengthened Peter and can get you and me through whatever we’re commissioned to do for Christ’s sake.
That is power, the power of the blood.