Welcome back! This week I want to point out that of all the disciples following Jesus, Pete is mentioned more than any other throughout the gospel accounts. It wasn’t because Pete did it well! I think it was more that Pete was the guy who tried everything, even walking on water! He was the first one with an answer, even the wrong answer. And he did this again and again. There are moments that it seems like this “Jesus’ way” is starting to click in Pete’s mind, then he goes and gets it wrong again. He didn’t wait to see what someone else was going to say. He didn’t fudge on his answers or play it safe. He went for it! Every time! You have to give this to Pete—he tried. He was all in! Talk about committed, and you’re talking about Pete.
As we dig in this week, ask yourself if you play it safe. Do you hedge your bets? When you make a mistake or wonder if you look stupid, do you back away? When you have another opportunity after a failure, do you jump in, or sit on the sidelines? Do you think to yourself, “I tried and it didn’t work. I’m not doing that again?”
Years ago, I was walking on the beach at the Oregon Coast with my wife and her family. I was having a pout about some silly perceived slight or another, so was walking off by myself. The wind was blowing sand around my feet. I wasn’t praying; I was just walking along in a funk. Out of the blue, the Lord interrupted my pout and simply said very clearly and plainly, “I don’t want you to be so fragile.” That was all He said. And I was changed. Since then, I respond differently when things don’t go my way. I press in where appropriate. I stay with it, whatever it may be. I can’t recall the last time I pouted; that may have been it.
Jesus is committed to you, so much He died for you. He loves you more than you can comprehend. He is pursuing you to draw you close to Himself. Will you respond in kind? Will you stay with Him? Will you press back in when you are discouraged? When you fail, will you try again, even if you fail again? How committed to Him are you?
This week we will look at Pete’s breaking point. And make no mistake, he broke. The big man who could and would do anything ended up on a cold, lonely night in a confusion of tears. He did the very thing he said he would never do — he denied that he even knew Jesus, not just once but repeatedly. He hid his fear with his typical bluster and anger. In a daze of disorientation, we made his way back to where he and the other disciples were staying. I don’t know what went on in that room as dawn was breaking after a sleepless night. Likely it was a somber atmosphere punctuated with comments that were half spoken, perhaps just groans of despair. The other disciples were likely just confused as they tried to make sense of the fact of Jesus impending execution. Certainly they felt the weight of their hopes and dreams crashing around their feet. But Pete, Pete had to wrestle with having denied he even knew Jesus. This man who had called him to follow, patiently taught him about the Kingdom of God and loved him deeply had to face betrayal and arrest, torture and a mock trial alone. Pete had followed to be near him, to see what would happen and in the moment of truth, chose self-preservation over loyalty. How did Pete keep the remorse and guilt at bay? Could he? Were I in the room, I would have given him a wide berth as if he were a wounded and cornered grizzly bear.
How was Peter to make his way back? How would he ever be able to look his friends in the eye? How would he move past his failure and find life again?