I’ve been walking in the Lord’s footsteps this week – following Him from the palm branches to the cross. Imagine my surprise when I was stopped in my tracks and God shifted the spotlight off of His Son. He seated me at the table among the disciples and pointed my heart toward the one who would deny Him times three.
“Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate you from me … Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out.” Luke 22:31 (MSG)
As my eyes scanned that verse over and over, I could have easily exchanged my name with Simon Peter’s. Faced with an unknown, my anxious heart has been riding the waves of uncertainty.
One minute, I’m confident …
“Master, I’m ready for anything with you. I’d go to jail for you. I’d die for you!”
Luke 22:33 MSG
I’ve surrendered my heart and committed my steps to following after the Lord. With my own brand of Peter’s abandon and wholehearted faith, I’ve pursued God and laid down my “anything” for Him.
And then the rooster crowed.
“Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him: ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ He went out and cried and cried and cried.” Luke 22:62 MSG
I’ve known some pesky roosters that have crowed and pecked at my faith.
Burden and stress have caused me to retreat. Fear has overridden faithfulness. Worry has borrowed trouble that wasn’t mine to bear. Doubt has wearied the stronghold on my heart. The ground has grown shaky, my feet have been prone to wander, and while I never said I didn’t know Him, I certainly didn’t cross the courtyard and battle it out in His name.
For any of us who have known weariness of faith and worried that we’ve failed God, Peter’s story is filled with hope.
For protection: God can easily predict our weaknesses. There is no point in hiding them from Him. Whether it’s a physical battle, an emotional struggle, or Satan’s fiery darts, Jesus prays and intercedes on our behalf. God fights for us by name.
For forgiveness: Before His soon Savior’s very eyes, Peter broke his [albeit overzealous] promises. But, I have no doubt that God bottled up every one of Peter’s anguished tears. Jesus’ gaze wasn’t filled with condemnation, but compassion, understanding, grace, and love. It’s the same way He looks on us when we falter, when the faith we’ve proclaimed with promises of “anything” and “all” is tried and tested, even when it fails. God forgives.
For restoration: It has to be one of the most beautiful scenes in scripture (John 21). Peter no doubt besot with grief, burdened with guilt, and biding time in the middle off the sea spots his risen Lord on the shore. Not a minute to spare on rowing, he jumps ship and swims with all his might to reach the God he loves. Sopping wet he faces his risen King, pierced through and on His way to heaven.
Three times Peter is asked to give account of his love and each emphatic affirmation is like an eraser vanishing every heart wrenching denial.
“Then He said it a third time: ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.’”
John 21:17 (MSG)
Can’t you hear the plea in Peter’s voice? Lord, you just have to know how much you mean to me. You have to know how sorry I am. It’s the cry of our hearts when we sin, isn’t it? God knew Peter’s love was intact. He knows ours is too. God restores.
For reaffirmation: Our faltering faith doesn’t disqualify us to walk in God’s footsteps. He doesn’t label us as weak or unworthy. He resurrects our faith, breathes new life into it, and then leans in close and commands, “Follow Me.” Peter was qualified as a disciple in spite of his forthcoming blunder. Jesus knew that nothing would more uniquely equip Peter to strengthen the faith of others, like fighting for his own. God reaffirms His call.
The journey to the cross was paved with rejection, opposition, and a great deal of suffering. But the glory of the cross is crowned with promise, redemption, and life everlasting.
Our faith is a product of the cross and we can’t have the glory without the journey.
The same God that protected, forgave, restored, and reaffirmed Peter leans into your life and mine and whispers, “Follow Me.” He won’t lead us where He hasn’t walked before us and He won’t leave us where He doesn’t plan to stay.
Whatever journey you find yourself on, know that you do not walk alone. The cross is your promise and the empty tomb is your evidence. Christ is risen and He walks beside you.