Matthew 26:73-75 “And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.”
The zeal of human flesh often attempts things we were not meant to do.
Youthfulness allows for risk in those attempts. But, as we age, we become more conservative in our decision making. I often refer to this as my mind writing checks that my body cannot cash.
Peter was the bold one. The impetuous one. Because of his headstrong behavior, most of the disciples followed his lead. God opened his understanding to declare Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
Matthew 16:15-16 “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
In that same zeal, Peter rebukes Jesus, not allowing Him to be taken and suffer as He had just prophesied.
Matthew 16:21-22 “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.”
So suddenly did the conversation turn from praise for the revelation to so sharp a rebuke from the Lord.
Matthew 16:23 “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
It was Peter who saw the Lord walking on water and desired to come to Him. He was the only one of the disciples to exercise his faith in such a miraculous way.
Matthew 14:29-31 “And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
If Jesus declares Peter of “little faith,” what of the rest of those still in the boat?
Then, near the end, Jesus warns Peter of what is to come.
Luke 22:31-32 “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Peter had yet to comprehend the immensity of what was to transpire. He was still looking for a king – not a suffering Savior. His response reveals that truth.
Luke 22:33 “And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.”
Jesus knew that this opportunity could destroy Peter. Yet, Jesus’ prayer was for him to survive what it would take to break Peter – his denial. Jesus, being God, could have kept Peter from ever having to go through that whole scenario.
There, by the fire, the prophesy come true. Peter realizes the words of Jesus and sees himself betraying the very One for whom he was willing to die. The full force of guilt and shame hit him hard.
Brokenness had come.
Jesus’ prayer guided Peter’s steps from that time until Jesus met them on the shore that day. Jesus had prayed for Peter’s faith not to fail. He did not pray to keep him from the failure. He prayed for him to survive and come to the realization that Peter’s dependence must be on God, not his flesh.
The restorative power of Jesus’ interaction with Peter that day revealed a truth I have long cherished. The main focus that Jesus was trying to instill in Peter was his usefulness through faith.
We focus on failure.
Jesus prayed for faith to survive the brokenness of failure.
We will all experience brokenness at some point in our life. The levels of that brokenness can be minimal to catastrophic. It is what we do afterward that matters. I believe it is because we are still breathing that we have not lost our usefulness to our Heavenly Father.
This verse opens us to a choice.
Luke 20:17-18 “And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”
Jesus is that stone which the builders rejected. The act of falling upon that ‘stone’ is our yielding to Him our life. Failure to do so means God will have to break us to make us useful to Him.
When we are more concerned about our agenda, our comfort, and our skin, we will miss what God can do through us.
Brokenness is the key.