By: Sarah Joyner
“…But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…” Romans 5:20 ESV
Many who have heard the story of Jesus are familiar with the Apostle Peter, but as a refresher, Peter was a fisherman whom Jesus called to follow him, which Peter did so without hesitation. Peter spoke his mind, oftentimes out of impulse, and was the kind of person who did not have, what we call today, a filter. What Peter thought, Peter said, and Peter did. But it was to this very outspoken and unbridled Peter that Jesus says, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18 ESV). Peter may have seemed like an unlikely candidate for church leadership to some, but Jesus had a plan and purpose for Peter’s life.
Looking at the life of Peter, we see both the good and the bad. The “good”: Jesus called Peter to follow Him and he did so without hesitation (Matt. 4:18-20), Peter declared Jesus as Christ when others did not (Matt. 16:13-20), and Peter’s heart was always set on loving Jesus. Peter’s “bad” comes in the days leading up to Jesus’ death…In fact, it was during the Last Supper that Jesus warned his faithful Apostle Peter that he would deny Him in a conversation in which they held:
“Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are you going? Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward. Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times’” John 13:36-38 (ESV).
Then, when Jesus goes to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, He takes Peter, James, and John with Him for encouragement and companionship as He prays. But instead of praying for Jesus and offering Him the support He needs, the apostles fall asleep!
Then, when Jesus finishes praying, they all head back and are met by Judas and the temple guards who have come to seize Jesus. Instead of putting up a fight, Jesus willingly gives himself over to the guards. However, Peter, lacking any sort of self-control, draws his sword and cuts off the right ear of the high priest’s servant (John 18:10). And finally, just as Jesus had predicted, we see Peter betray Jesus by denying any knowledge of, or association with, Jesus three times in John 18:15-27. Immediately following Peter’s third denial, the rooster crows, and Peter weeps for he knows he had not been true to his self, nor to Jesus.
But Jesus did not allow these “bad” acts to stop Him from loving Peter. In John 21:15-19 we see a heartfelt story of repentance and redemption as Jesus allows Peter the chance to reaffirm his love as Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?,” and each time Peter responds Yes, Lord. Jesus then asks Peter to seal his love for Him by feeding His sheep. Though Peter denied Jesus, he repented and was reconciled to Him and continued to be a follower of Jesus even after His ascension.
In Acts Chapter 2 we see Peter (among others) blessed with the Holy Spirit in the upper room, giving his Pentecostal Sermon, and acting as the rock on which Jesus said he would build His church.
Lord, we too have bad days like Peter, finding ourselves acting out of emotion and on impulse. We thank you for your patience and mercy, and for blessing us with the Holy Spirit who continues to transform us into the person you have called us to be.