Reading: Matthew 26:30-75
In Matthew 26 we read an account of Jesus’s arrest and trial along with the disciples’ response. Peter is particularly singled out. Unlike the other disciples, he chooses to go to the courtyard of the high priest so he can learn the outcome of the trial. But when his identity as a follower of Jesus is revealed, he denies it. Three times he refuses to acknowledge Jesus, whom he had previously called the Messiah. Then that rooster crows (how judgmental!) and he realizes what he has done. Not only did he deny his Lord but his Lord had warned him ahead of time that this would happen. This fiery disciple seemed like the perfect candidate for faithfulness. Jesus gave him advance knowledge of what would come yet he still failed. When the spotlight is on him, he is weak. Peter becomes a prime example that knowledge isn’t power. He also shows us that there is no perfect candidate for the disciple-of-the-year award.
It’s tempting to dwell on this gut-wrenching scenario in which human weakness is exposed and be left feeling deep shame. After all, Peter’s denial feels very personal. I’m no better than him, so if he messed up that badly, what hope do I have? But the story of Peter’s faithlessness is ultimately about Jesus’ faithfulness. In Matthew 26:30-75, the story alternates between the actions of Jesus and those of the disciples. The disciples fall asleep while Jesus fervently prays in the garden. Peter can’t confess knowing Jesus to a servant girl, yet Jesus confesses his identity to the high priest. Peter is scared for his safety but Jesus freely offers his life as a ransom for others.
When Peter is confronted with his sin, he is deeply remorseful and repents. He’s the first disciple (after the women) to reach the empty tomb. The reality of the resurrection transforms him forever. Peter’s weakness and failure are redeemed by God’s power. Through the Holy Spirit, and in humble dependence on God, his fiery personality becomes a tool for the growth of the church.
It’s easy to dwell on our failures and weaknesses, forgetting that God has placed himself on the judgment seat for us. Let’s be like Peter and look to Christ for restoration. Our efforts are riddled with weaknesses but his work is sufficient and complete.
Written by Natalie Crowson