August 22, 2015
I’m learning that when an inspiration comes to me for a Sister2Sister, I need to write it right then or in will seep out of my leaky brain. Our Sunday School lesson is on the subject of pride, using poor old Peter as the example. I love the study of Peter. Who can’t relate to him? He messed up over and over, and yet what a recovery!
Today’s lesson finds us in the Garden of Gethsemane, just moments before Jesus is “taken away” by the band of soldiers thrown together for the sole purpose of “capturing” the Lord. Of course, they didn’t realize that all this had been orchestrated by God from the beginning of time. They were under orders and carrying them out. I wonder if any of them had seen Jesus heal a leper, restore sight to the blind, or give life back to the dead. Perhaps!
Our focus is on Peter. He was a man chosen to be one of twelve apostles – an honor to be sure. Moreover, he was part of the inner-circle of apostles who got a few extra insights into the deity and grandness of Jesus Christ. And to top it off, he seemed to be the spokesperson of the group. At least he always spoke up, often before thinking.
One privilege he was given was to be taken further into the Garden of Gethsemane than some of the others. Jesus was mere hours away from the crucifixion. He had to pray! He asked, no told, Peter, James and John to watch and pray. Again, we can relate to Peter – instead of praying, he slept. How often do we do the same thing? This was a crucial time. They could have witnessed Jesus praying THAT prayer – the one where He agonized with God to let this cup pass from Him, sweating as it were drops of blood – in anguish! If they could rewrite the scene, surely they would be as close to Jesus as possible lifting Him up in prayer. But, the Lord prayed His prayer ALONE.
We must rewind to learn Peter’s lesson in pride. When the Lord told them they would scatter like sheep without a shepherd, a fulfillment of Zechariah 13:7, Peter argued with the Lord. Speak now, think later! Why do we argue with the Lord? He is always telling the truth. How ironic it would have been for Peter to have won that or any other argument with the Lord. Can you imagine Jesus saying, “Oh, you are right Peter. What was I thinking?” That could never happen anymore than it can when we argue with the Words of truth we read from our Savior.
Peter declared he would NEVER forsake the Lord (Matthew 26:33). Easy words to say; hard words to live up to as he was about to prove in just a few hours. Peter could not even stay awake when the Lord told him to pray – wasn’t that forsaking the Lord? Yes, and he was setting himself up for the fall.
When the soldiers came into the garden, drowsy Peter started swinging his sword. Maybe he was trying to prove his words – “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.” See me with my sword? I’m going to take down this whole band of soldiers single-handed. Roar! I love how the Lord reached down and put the guy’s ear back on. That had to make an impact on him. Poor old Peter had to be rebuked again – they weren’t going to win this one with swords. The battle was the Lord’s. Jesus could have called, at least, 72,000 angels at a moment’s notice. But Peter thought he would give it a shot. He was full of himself.
One thing I really love about this story is that at this critical time in the Lord’s earthly life, He was taking time to teach Peter a life-lasting lesson. How He loves His own. The account goes that Peter follows the Lord “afar off.” He denied the Lord not once, but three times, just as the Lord prophesied. Right on cue, the rooster crowed twice. The chicken was more obedient than Peter. A chicken! A chicken let Peter know that he was himself a chicken.
I think my favorite part of this Scripture is Luke 22:61, “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter.” That is fascinating! The Lord is being “tried,” beaten, blasphemed, and condemned, and the Lord “looked upon Peter.” What a Savior! He was giving Peter the lesson of a lifetime. Peter had failed Him, but Jesus still loved Him. Oh, Peter wept bitterly. That look was with him for the rest of his life, and it changed him.
As Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know the rest of the story.” Not quite yet. The rest of the story came after the resurrection when the Lord convinced Peter that he indeed did love the Lord. I imagine whenever Peter heard a rooster, he would humbly bow his head and ask God for grace. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter penned these words in 1 Peter 5:5-6, “be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”
Don’t give up on yourself. The Lord has not. Learn from Peter. Live for God!