Bible Reading: Luke 22:31-53
At some point, or another, all of us fail. Sometimes we become involved in an apparent sin. Sometimes we don’t live up to expectations. But whatever it is…it can be devastating. But the good news is that God doesn’t quit on us. He forgives. He heals. And, He will even use our experience to help others.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
The story is told about a company of American soldiers who had carefully advanced forward through a minefield. A “mine” is an explosive device that is buried just below the ground so that you cannot see it. If someone is walking along and steps on it, it will explode and either cause terrible wounds, or kill the person. As they walked through the minefield, position of each mine had been clearly marked by an advance team with a large “X” on the ground. Just after they had made it through the minefield they came under enemy fire. They were pinned down by a much larger force. All afternoon and into the night they could only maintain their position and return fire. As dark came upon them it began to snow heavily. It snowed all night long. With the coming of morning the enemy withdrew. However, they knew that the enemy would attack again, soon, and that they probably would not be able to withstand another assault. They must pull back, quickly. But now, they had another problem. The snow had fallen all night and had covered the “X’s” that marked the positions of the mines. They had no idea where they were. The Sergeant gave his orders. He would attempt to cross the minefield, first. Then, if he made it, each man was to cross it…one at a time. They were to step exactly in his boot prints. The Sergeant began carefully walking back through the minefield. After several tense minutes he turned and signaled to his men…he had made it safely! Now the rest of the men began the dangerous trip back. Each man walked precisely where the Sergeant had walked…placing his boot exactly in the boot print left by the Sergeant. Every soldier made it safely back across the minefield.
Later that day a shiver passed down the spines of many of the men when they looked back at the minefield. The snow had melted and left the imprints of their boot prints in the mud. In several places, the Sergeant’s boot prints were less than an inch from a mine. Had any soldier not walked exactly in the boot print of the Sergeant he would have stepped on a mine and probably been killed, instantly.
During His time of ministry on earth, Jesus had many disciples. The word “disciple” simply means “follower, or learner”. A disciple is someone who follows a teacher and learns from him. But there were 12 of His disciples that He chose…
- to be His friends
- to stay with Him all of the time
- to help and to heal others
- to give leadership to the rest of the disciples
- to continue to fulfill His mission even after He had gone to Heaven.
These disciples were called, “Apostles”. Among them, three were His key leaders…Peter, James, and John. You recognize those names. As we read through the Gospels we see them over and over.
Peter seemed to be bold, courageous, often the first one to speak out (usually saying what the rest also believed…but just were not ready to say, out loud). But at one point, Peter’s bravado got ahead of his brain. On the night that Judas would betray Jesus…Jesus warned the Apostles about what was about to happen. He was going to be betrayed by one of the Apostles and taken captive by the Jewish authorities. Peter was determined that no matter what happened…he would defend Jesus…He would fight to the death! But Jesus warned him that before the rooster crowed as sunrise the next morning…he would deny that he even knew Him, three times. This must have crushed Peter. Did Jesus really think that he was such a coward? And not only that, but Jesus had said it right there in front of the other Apostles. How embarrassing. The really sad part is that as we read through the rest of this chapter in Luke…that is exactly what happened. Three times Peter lies and tells people that not only was he not a follower of Jesus, but that he didn’t even know him. Let’s give Peter some credit…he did try. When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane…it was possibly Peter who drew his sword and tried to defend Jesus. But then, he ran away with the rest of them. However, later, he snuck into the courtyard of the home of the High Priest to see what would happen with Jesus. But it was there that he got into trouble. People recognized him. They thought that they had seen him with Jesus. That’s when they questioned him…and he denied even knowing Jesus. The third time that he did so, Jesus was on the other side of the courtyard. Just as Peter told a man that he didn’t know Jesus…a rooster crowed, just like Jesus had said it would. Peter looked at Jesus…and Jesus looked at Peter. Suddenly, a ton of guilt hit Peter. The look in Jesus’ eyes was just too much to bear. He had denied Jesus and Jesus knew!
I want you to see several very important truths here. They are important to you…because they apply to you. You see, there is a good chance, that at some point in your life…you will do something that is not pleasing to the Lord. It may be that you have an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus…but you feel a little embarrassed, so you don’t do it. It may be that you do something that you know is wrong, sinful. You know it. And yet, you cave in and do it, anyway. But whatever it is, at that moment, in your heart, you will feel like Peter. You can see Jesus looking at you. He knows. He is aware of what happened. Now, what are you going to do?
Let’s look at what happened to Peter and apply it to us.
- Remember that Jesus knew ahead of time that Peter was going to deny Him and warned him. If Jesus was intending to kick Peter out for denying Him…He could have done it right there, and then. But He didn’t. He still had plans for Peter even after he failed. He still has plans for you…even when you fail.
- Jesus prayed for Peter. Think about that. If you were ever going to have someone praying for you…praying for you when they knew that you were going to fail, to sin…the best person to have praying would be Jesus. Why? Because His prayers are perfect and go straight to the Father. The Bible says that right now, in Heaven, Jesus is praying to the Father for you.
- Jesus believed that Peter would realize that he had done wrong and would come back to Him. And get this, even before Peter had denied Him, and even though He warned him, Jesus was already willing to forgive him. I think that tells us that Jesus believes in us. He believes that even though we may fail, even though we may sin…we will repent and ask Him for forgiveness.
- One more thing. Jesus used Peter to help others. He told Peter that after he had returned to Him…to be ready to help the other disciples. Remember, they all ran. Oh, Peter had opened his mouth and boasted the loudest, “I’ll never run! I’ll go to prison, or even die. But I’ll never run!” So, the way that Peter can help the other disciples is by telling them, “If Jesus will forgive me, He will forgive you.” Whatever you may do…Jesus will forgive you.
Peter was kind of like that Sergeant who crossed the minefield. He had made it across safely…and now, he could tell the others that they could as well. All they had to do was the same thing that he had done. Walk in his tracks. Peter repented and returned to the Lord. When we sin…we need to follow in the tracks of Peter.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,