Do you know Jesus? Peter, one of His closest disciples declared that he didn’t. Mark 14:71 reveals about Peter:
But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.”
How could that be? Peter had walked with Jesus for three years. From the very first when Jesus called him, he responded without hesitation. Can you imagine the miracles he saw? Jesus healed the blind and the deaf. He cast out numerous demons. In Peter’s presence Jesus raised the dead. Peter witnessed Jesus walk on water in the midst of a storm. More than that, at Jesus’ command, Peter himself had walked on the turbulent waves. On the heights of Mount Hermon, with his very eyes, Peter saw Jesus as He really was in all His glory, not to mention two of the most famous of all Israel’s prophets speaking to Him. At a point of true revelation, Peter declared that Jesus was God.
Yet, in humanity’s darkest hour before Jesus was to be unjustly crucified, when confronted by the accusations of a little servant girl, Peter denied that he even knew Jesus. What kind of man was this? Where was his courage? Where was the faith he had acquired during his amazing time with this God-man? What was Peter’s problem?
It’s the one we all have. We’re human. Our flesh is weak. To top it off, although Peter believed that God Himself was in their midst, neither he nor the other disciples had God living inside them. None of them had yet received through faith the free gift of the Holy Spirit. They didn’t have the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) living within. Emmanuel had been with them but wasn’t in them. That wouldn’t happen until later when Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22)
What does Jeremiah 17:9 say?
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
It all goes to show that without our Lord animating us and giving us life through His indwelling presence, we’re toast. If Peter, this robust, presumably fearless fisherman, denied Jesus, what can any of us do?
Jesus said in Matthew 10;33:
“Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
1 John 2;23 follows that up with:
No one who denies the Son has the Father.
Is Peter then lost? How can any of us stand? Paul in Romans 1:16 made the definitive statement about this:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
The truth of the matter is that first we must receive the Holy Spirit. Without Him, true faith of any kind is impossible. With Him, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
Peter wept and repented. He had grievously sinned, and he knew it. Yet. he was still helpless as a mere man.
God knows our weaknesses. He understands that even with the Holy Spirit there are times our faith and courage fail us. There are numerous stories of such failures among believers who are persecuted and caused to suffer. In that trial, the pain of their flesh overwhelmed them. The stories are also plentiful of these same men and women repenting and recanting, then being tortured once more but standing firm in Christ.
God is infinitely merciful. Wrapping our heads around that fact is something we all struggle with. God loves us with an everlasting love. He wants none to perish, but all to have eternal life with Him. He alone makes our faith possible. Only His holy presence living inside us gives us the ability to stand – to not be ashamed. Yet, we still may fail. In the midst of that, God continues to woo us to Himself. If we have fallen. He will pick us up. He redeemed Peter. He will redeem us.
Lord. give us the strength to stand for You. We know that trials and tribulations will come. Pick us up. Place us back on our feet. Keep us on the firm footing that we have only in Jesus. We ask this in His holy Name.