I don’t care how strong you think you are, we all have our moments of weakness. It is often in those weak moments that we find ourselves and realize what is most important in life. Peter had been following Jesus for over two years. No disciple was closer to the Lord than Peter. Yet Peter was up and down in his walk with Jesus. In one moment the Lord was praising him and calling him a blessed rock, moments later Jesus referred to Peter as “Satan.” In the week before the crucifixion, Peter told Jesus that he would die for Him. He pulled his sword to defend Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Just hours later Peter denied he even knew Jesus.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Peter was the leader of the disciples. He was a Christ follower and he loved Jesus. Peter thought he had arrived at the “rock” status that Jesus proclaimed he would become. He thought he was invinceable, but in a moment of weakness Peter learned that he had a long way to go. As Jesus faced His most difficult hours, He called His closest followers to come to the garden and pray with Him. Jesus was agonizing over what he had to face. He went off by Himself to talk with the Father. When he got back to where He had asked Peter to pray, He found him sleeping. Jesus told him to, “Watch and pray so that you don’t enter into temptation.”
In that garden Jesus was arrested and was put on trial. Peter followed from a distance. John, though younger than Peter, followed more closely. John was in the courtyard outside of the room where Jesus was being questioned, accused, and beaten. Peter stood at the gate. John went and spoke to the girl that guarded the gate and got her to let Peter in. She asked Peter if he was also one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter answered, “No.” Peter went and warmed himself by the fire trying to blend in with the crowd. Another person recognized him and asked him if he knew Jesus. Peter denied Him again. The third person that recognized Peter was related to Malchus, the soldier that Peter cut with his sword when Jesus was arrested. He was there in the garden too. When he identified Peter as a disciple Peter began to curse and swear that he did not know Jesus.
At that very moment Jesus was being transferred through the courtyard to another building. When the rooster crowed as Jesus had said, Peter looked up and his eyes met Jesus. What a look that must have been. Even through the trial and beatings, Peter was still on the forefront of Jesus’ mind. Even through his denial, Peter kept his eyes on Jesus. No matter how far you stray from God, never take your eyes off Jesus. Peter went away from this scene and wept bitter tears. He believed that this would be the last time he saw Jesus, and felt Jesus would die with his words of denial in His ears. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” must have been the words resounding in the heart of Peter. Prayer changes things. Peter’s pride came crashing to the ground through his tears of repentance. Believing that his ministry was over, Peter would go back to his fishing business confident that he disqualified himself from being of any use to God.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He spoke to the women at the tomb. He told them to tell the disciples, especially Peter, that He was alive and on His way to Galilee. Even through the difficult events of the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus still had Peter on His mind. This is a great picture of the love and compassion of Christ. Even when we deny Him and stray from Him, we are heavy on His heart. Even when we sin, Jesus calls our name and seeks to reconcile with us. When Peter heard the news that Jesus was alive he ran to the tomb. I can’t imagine the thoughts in his mind. I’m sure he was seeking Jesus to repent, but he had to also wonder if Jesus would still accept him. With his heart full of regret and remorse he walked into the empty tomb and did not know what to think.
Eventually Jesus had a conversation with Peter that would challenge his commitment. After their initial meeting and reconciliation, Jesus recreated the scene where He originally called Peter. It was as if they were starting over again with a clean slate. Peter had come full circle. After a night of fishing the disciple were on their way into shore. They had caught nothing. A man stood on the shore and called to them, but they didn’t recognize Him. He old them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat for a catch. This seemed vaguely familiar to them, as this is what happened when Jesus first challenged them to follow Him. As they began to pull the net it was full of fish and John exclaimed, “It’s Jesus.” This time Peter was so excited to see Him that he jumped in the water and swam 100 yards to shore. There was no fear, Peter had got his heart right with Jesus.
As they sat on the shore and ate, Jesus talked with Peter about his level of love for God as it relates to his calling. Jesus said, “Peter, do you love me more than these fish.” Many people put their job and their career above their love for Jesus. Jesus and Peter probably spoke Aramaic, but when this conversation was translated into Greek there was an understanding that the words they used for love were different. Jesus used the word “agape,” asking Peter if he loved Him with an unconditional, unselfish, unending love. When Peter said, “Lord you know I love you,” he used the word “phileo” referring to a love that is self-seeking. Remember Peter once said that he would die for Jesus. Now he has been humbled and admits that his relationship with Jesus is not where it should be. It is not enough to follow Jesus and love Jesus. The quality and depth of our love for Jesus matters to God. We need to be in love with Him if we are going to answer the call of God on our lives. Maybe you are like Peter in that your love for Jesus is not where it should be. Humble yourself and admit it to God.
Days later Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost during a prayer service. It was his humility that opened the door for God’s Spirit to fill and transform him. From this day forward Peter would be the rock that God called him to be. After the resurrection, he was the first disciple to preach a sermon, the first to lead people to Christ, the first to heal the sick, the first to raise the dead, and the first to introduce the Gentiles to Christ. If Peter can make it, there is hope for us all.