God revealed the identity of Jesus to Peter at the midpoint of his ministry. When Peter declared Jesus to be the Messiah, this interchange took place.
— Matthew 16.16-19 – Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Peter was destined for great accomplishments in the kingdom of God.
(1) He would be a very important component of the church.
(2) Jesus promised him protection against the enemy.
(3) Peter was ordained to have unique authority.
At the end of the Last Supper, Jesus told Peter that “Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat” (Luke 22.31).
After Jesus’ arrest and now at the courtyard of the high priest’s house, Satan’s sifting began.
The stakes were high for anyone associated with Jesus. The Romans condemned all rebels to crucifixion. As one of Jesus’ followers, Peter would be crucified alongside his leader.
The temptation Peter faced was to save his life, rather than lose it for the sake of Jesus (Luke 9.23).
— Luke 22.54-57 – Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance.
When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.
Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, “This man also was with him.”
But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”
Peter followed Jesus, but “at a distance.” When we are distant from Jesus, we are open to situations where denial is highly possible.
The denial was made to one of the lowest status persons in the first century, a servant who was a girl.
Peter, the “Rock,” cowered before a question from a girl! Let’s not forget that behind his actions was Satan, who was “sifting” him.
— Luke 22.58-60 – A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, “You also are one of them.”
But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”
Then about an hour later still another kept insisting, “Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.”
But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed.
Peter was called to be with Jesus, to proclaim the message of the kingdom, and to have authority over demons (Mark 3.13-15).
As he was being “sifted” by Satan, he denied being with Jesus, proclaimed “I don’t know what you are talking about,” and had no power to resist the words of the crowd.
Every time I read Peter’s story, I ask myself how many times have I denied Jesus through my attitudes or actions?
The Power of Repentance
When Jesus told Peter about the “sifting” he was to encounter, he said, “But I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22.32).
Not only did Jesus pray for Peter, but he looked at him in the midst of Peter’s greatest failure.
— Luke 22.61 – The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.”
And he went out and wept bitterly.
Peter’s weeping was the beginning of repentance. At that moment, he “turned back” and later strengthened the followers of Jesus.
Failure is Not Final!
Peter’s failure, and all of our failures, are recorded in a book that is called a “Gospel.” “Gospel” means good news.
On the day of Peter’s failure, Jesus died on the cross for the sins of all humanity. His death allowed Peter and all of us to be forgiven and renewed.
On the day of Pentecost, 3,000 people in Jerusalem were baptized (Acts 2.41). It is very possible that many of those had been opponents of Jesus on the day of his crucifixion.
Like Peter, their repentance opened the door to forgiveness, transformation, and blessing. This is the good news of the “Gospel.”
The only failure that is final is when our pride won’t allow us to repent and turn to God.
Rudy Ross and I explore more elements of this passage on today’s YouTube video. Please take 8 minutes to listen to us on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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