Who identifies with Simon Peter? Now, who identifies with him before the resurrection? Right, I’m not talking about the bold, fearless Peter, who preached at Pentecost, I’m talking about the dull, speak-before-you-think Peter, who dared to rebuke Jesus.
Now, who identifies with Peter?
Though we may not like to admit it, just like so many other fallible characters in the Bible, God allows us to see Peter’s humanity to remind us that Jesus can transform us too.
I feel sorry for Jesus. In this passage we read in John 13, we know his heart is heavy. He’s sent Judas out into the darkness to set the stage for his arrest. The crucifixion is right around the corner, and he wants to use these last moments to share important words of comfort and guidance to his disciples.
Peter is far from comic relief, but just another reminder to the Messiah of why he had to come.
Without Christ, we are hopelessly doomed in our ignorance.
He had just talked to them about the importance of loving each other, when Peter breaks in:
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!“*
Peter starts with the question: “Where are you going?” Jesus had already told them they couldn’t come where he was going. It seems obvious to us that Peter would have realized he was talking about his death; after all, he’d spoken about it just after coming to Jerusalem.
Again, with patience, Jesus tells him, that he can’t follow him where he is going. This time, however, he does add: “but you will follow me later.” Though Peter didn’t know it, Jesus knew that this bold disciple would ultimately follow his Lord, martyred for his faith.
Still clueless, Peter rashly claims he’d lay down his life for Jesus.
Will you really, Peter?
Instead of dying for his Master, Peter would, that very night, deny him three times.
I feel the heart of Jesus in this statement, and it draws me to the tears he wept on the day of his triumphal entry to the City of David:
If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.
“Oh, Peter, if you had only known what I am facing on your behalf, you would not say such rash things.”
What is Jesus trying to say to you today that you’re not hearing, because you keep interrupting him and plying him with questions and rash statements?
Is he reminding you that the days are short?
Is he telling you to show your love for him by loving your brother and sister in Christ?
Is he telling you that you will follow him in sacrifice for your faith?
Or, is he asking, “Will you really?” because you’re not listening?
Peter came to a point of confession for his sin and was restored and used in wonderful service to the Kingdom. Because we serve a Lord who forgives, we can too.
Grace and Peace
John 13:36-38 (NIV)