Recommended Reading:  Luke 22

“‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.’”  Peter said, ‘Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.’  But Jesus said, ‘Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.’”  (Verses 31-24 NLT)

In Luke 22 we find first the story about how Judas agrees to betray Jesus; then Jesus and his disciples celebrate Passover, this particular one is commonly referred to as “The Last Supper.”  Jesus talks to them about what is about to happen to Him and tells them that one of them will be betraying Him.  Then for some reason not explained, the disciples begin to argue about who among them would be the greatest; and, then with another sudden change of topic, Jesus predicts that Simon Peter will be denying Him:

Since there is no doubt whatsoever that God the Father hears and honors the prayers of His Son, Jesus, we know that Simon Peter’s faith would not fail.  However, we learn in verses 54-62 that he did indeed deny – three times – that he knew Jesus.  Fear won out over faith in those moments.  When Peter heard the rooster crow and it dawned on him what he had done, verse 62 (NLT) says:  “And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.”   

Can you imagine how he must have felt like the biggest failure in the world?  He had walked with Jesus, taught with Jesus, seen miracles, pledged himself as a follower of his Lord through thick and thin.  Then turned around and totally denied even knowing Him.

For whatever reason, as you see in the verses quoted above, Jesus told Simon Peter that He had prayed specifically for him and for his faith.  But then He also told him that when he had repented and turned back to Jesus that he should strengthen his brothers – and He told him all of that before He had even mentioned Peter’s betrayal.  

I am sure that although Jesus already knew what Peter was going to do, He did not, and would not view him as a failure.  “When Jesus sees our faith, He sees the lifelong process.  He sees whether our faith will be proven false by our testing or refined by it.” Jesus knew that Peter was going to become more refined and become that rock that He had named him to be.  (“‘Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’) and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.’”  Matthew 16:18 NLT)  That does not indicate any kind of failure.

Peter was the one that seemed to recognize Jesus’ messiahship from the beginning – “Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ ‘Well,’ they replied, ‘some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.’  Then he asked them, ‘But who do you say I am?’  Peter replied, ‘You are the Messiah.‘“  (Mark 8:27-29 NLT)

Later, after Peter denied the Lord, Jesus was crucified and buried.  Luke 24 tells how some of the women went to the tomb but found the stone that had been covering it was moved.  They looked in and saw there was no body – then ran back and told the disciples what had happened.  Versus 11-12a (NLT) says:  “But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look.”  Then in verse 34 (NLT) we discover that Peter may have possibly been the first of the Apostles to see Jesus after the resurrection:  “”The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.’”

Jesus gave Peter some specific directions for his ministry:  John 21:15-17 (NLT)  After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’  ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter replied, ‘you know I love you.’  ‘Then feed my lambs,’ Jesus told him.  Jesus repeated the question: ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’  ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter said, ‘you know I love you.’  ‘Then take care of my sheep,’ Jesus said.  A third time he asked him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’  Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, ‘Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.’  Jesus said, ‘Then feed my sheep.’”  Peter was directed to go out and teach people about their Savior and to also care for them.

Even after that horrible “failure” when he denied his Lord, Peter indeed strengthened others as a prominent leader for the church in Jerusalem until he finally left it in the hands of James.  Because of Peter’s ministry, many people were converted, people were healed, people were raised from the dead – the church grew under his influence.  In Acts 2 we read about how Peter preached to a large crowd and 3000 people were converted; and, in Acts 3 is the story about how Peter and John were going to the temple and along the way healed a cripple.  As the man began walking, leaping and praising God it garnered a lot of attention.  Peter then took advantage of that and began to preach – Acts 4:4 tells us that 5000 men were saved that day!  That is 8000 people converted as a result of two sermons preached by Peter – that some impressive results from a “failure”!    

So although many people may view Peter as a horrible failure because of that denial, he proved himself to be strong and influential – the rock that Jesus had proclaimed him to be.  As fallible people, we are all going to have failures in our lives.  But…”Do not let your failures define you.  They are not how God measures you.” “Perhaps it is that the one who is honest about his failures is the one who can be strongest in his faith.” We cannot let any of our failures defeat us.  Like Peter we can repent and then work to be the best we can be – with God’s help.

“We forget that God is a specialist; He is well able to work our failures into His plans.”  Erwin Lutzer

Written by Karran Martin – October 6, 2022

* Quotes from Chris Tiegreen

[Underline and bold emphasis mine]

2 thoughts on “Failures

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