Matthew 26:31-35 – Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too.
Luke 22:31-32 – Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
All four gospels tell the story of Peter’s impetuous boast of loyalty to Jesus. They also tell of his denial in the heat of the moment. Luke gives us context for Peter’s rash statement that he would follow Jesus to the death. Moments after they had shared the last Passover with Him, they got into an argument about who was considered to be the greatest. Can you imagine? Jesus knows He is getting ready to be taken to the cross, and the men who were closest to Him are arguing, and the loudest voice at the table is Simon Peter. It’s almost like a child who must have the last word. Jesus has settled their argument, but Peter persists, making that last bold claim of loyalty to show he is the greatest.
It would be his undoing.
Just a few short hours later, Jesus’ words to Peter come true. The disciples are sleepy, unwatchful. They are awakened by Jesus minutes before a crowd of angry priests and soldiers rush into the garden, wielding swords and clubs. Judas betrays him with a kiss, and Jesus surrenders willingly. Peter grabs a sword and swings, fully committed to fighting, but Jesus stops him. As the soldiers bind Jesus’ hands, the disciples scatter, fearful that they, too, will be taken into custody.
Peter follows, at a distance. He finds himself outside in the courtyard, not allowed in, but still able to see what is happening. His stomach churns and he is filled with fear as he hears the accusations against Jesus, and watches as they spit on him and beat him. Three times the bystanders recognize Peter as “one who was with Him.” Three times Peter denies it, more forcefully each time. And as he raises his voice to curse, swearing loudly, “I do not know the man!” the rooster crows. He looks across the pavement and meets Jesus’ eyes, remembering his boastful words just hours before. And he went out and wept bitterly.
Jesus died before Peter ever had an opportunity to make amends, to ask forgiveness. But He knew exactly what Peter was going through, and He had already forgiven Him long before the denial happened. We see it in the promise of His words to Peter: But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. Not “if” but “when.”
That’s what grace does. It sees the end, and acts in faith. Grace is extended as though we were already whole.
We see so many things that gladden our hearts and give us hope in Peter’s story. God knows how things will turn out, so He is not deterred by our human failings. Yes, we have an enemy who “desires to sift us” but we have a more powerful Savior who is praying for us. There is grace and forgiveness for us, no matter how far we fall. And Jesus doesn’t need us to defend Him; He only wants us to follow, to believe.
We often relate Jesus’ conversation by the Sea of Galilee as the time when Peter was restored to fellowship, connecting the three denials to the three times Jesus posed the question, “Peter, do you love Me?” And that makes sense. Peter is given the chance to declare his love and loyalty, once for every painful word he’d spoken in fear and unbelief. But hidden in the scriptures’ account of Jesus’ actions the first day of His resurrection is an overlooked gem. In two separate places, we are given the insight that Jesus appeared to Peter separately, alone, before appearing to the eleven (Luke 24:34, and 1 Corinthians 15:5). It is here they had a reunion of hearts, so intimate and sweet that no details are necessary. Jesus knew that Peter’s heart was hurting, and He came to him as soon as He could.
Grace is personal.
Grace is timely.
Grace does not hold a grudge.
Is there anything in your life that you can’t believe God would forgive you for? We’ve all denied Him. And many of us have boasted of our love and loyalty, only to fall away in a moment of fear or weakness. Don’t wait a moment longer, staying away because of guilt or shame. When Peter heard the tomb was empty, he ran to see if it was true, because he knew grace was waiting to meet him there.
1 Peter 4:12-14 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
This devotional was taken from Grace & Glory: A 50-Day Journey In The Purpose & Plan Of God. Find your copy here.