”Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Luke 22.31-34
I wonder what’s worse? The betrayal of Jesus by Judas or the denial of Jesus by Simon Peter?
I’ve found myself in particular times in my life living in denial. I was in denial several years ago when serving a ministry I thought was in favor of how I was leading. I was wrong, and subsequently, I was let go from that position after only four months. I’ve also been in denial of my sin, thinking that I can still sin and it won’t affect anyone. I was wrong. Our sin always negatively affects those closest to us.
The denial of Jesus by Simon Peter is perhaps one of the greatest denial stories in biblical history. Peter, who is “the rock” is the clear leader of the disciples. He’s one of the inner circle of three and is bold in his love and leadership of the Lord. And even though in this instance in the Upper Room, where Jesus is stating that Satan has “asked to sift all of you as wheat” and praying that Simon’s faith “may not fail,” Simon confidently says, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” And sadly, when the time comes, Peter will reject the Lord not once but three times before the rooster crows on that very day.
How can we be so strong one minute and the next live in total rejection of the faith? How can we turn from sin in the daylight, and entertain it in the dark? How can we fully believe that Jesus is all we need, yet use food or drugs or sex or work to dull the pain and distract from that which haunts us the most?
Peter didn’t intend to denial his Lord. He had every good intention of doing exactly what he said and promised. I believe in the very moment he said, “I am ready to go with you to prison and to death,” that Peter meant it. But when the time came, and the pressure was on, Peter ran from the accusations of a young girl in the courtyard where Christ was being arrested and soon to be beaten. In heat of the moment, Peter failed the Christ.
Now the hope of the promise is this — we don’t have to turn away. Sometimes we will struggle and sometimes our faith will fail, but the hope of the Gospel is found in the Helper who resides within. The Holy Spirit is our strength, our comforter, our confidence. God’s Spirit, which lived in the Tabernacle and the Temple and was once kept hidden from Gods’ people, is now accessible to all. Will we fail when temptation comes? We might stumble. But we can choose to live victoriously, facing our fears and rejecting what Jesus called the sifting of the wheat by the devil (v.31).
This day I want us to have hope. Even though we face difficulties all day long (2 Cor. 12.10), we can overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of his testimony (Rev. 12.11).
And this is good news indeed.
”O Lord God, the travails of this life are very real. They bombard us at every turn. They rain down temptations, moments of denial, acts of rejection as we lean on our own understanding and forget the One who redeemed us. But this need not be! Our hope and faith is in the One who delivered us from darkness. Therefore, we do not dwell in the caves of fear any longer. We walk in the light. We live in the light. And the Light of Christ lives in us. Thanks be to God. Come now, Holy Spirit, take my will and bend it to your passions and power. Allow me to be all you’ve created me to be by your grace and for your glory. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen