BULLETIN ARTICLE – 10 December 2017
As we approach the end of another year 2017 and the start of another year 2018, will it be our heart’s cry for God to help us in our weakness and failings? Do we long to see our lives transformed for God’s purpose and His glory? Perhaps we feel we are too fixed in our ways, that there is no more room for change? Peter’s life offers two lessons for us in this.
Tracing the rise and fall of his loyalty in following Jesus, Peter’s line would show a rise upon rise from the start. At the point of his knowing Jesus, Peter left everything to follow Jesus for three years. When he confessed his deep conviction that Jesus is indeed the Messiah (Christ) who is also the Son of the living God, Jesus affirmed that it was divinely revealed to him. Then came the plunge that shocked himself – his denial of Jesus. At the critical and crucial test of his allegiance to someone he had followed faithfully for three long years, his courage failed him despite his emotional assertion that he would never forsake his beloved Master. Peter declared to Jesus: “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Matthew 26:35).
Restoration begins with repentance. Peter wept bitterly over his failure in forsaking Jesus. Repentance does not lead to despair. Instead, forgiveness is immediate for “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God desires truth in our inmost being (Psalm 51:6). Assurance of forgiveness comes from the Bible. Peter must have found solace to hear his name from the risen Jesus’ word conveyed by the women. And again, at the beach in John 21, when he was asked three times, ‘Do you love Me more than these?’ How was Peter to serve the Lord again? No one can serve Jesus properly if sin is just shrugged off. Peter had seen the price Jesus paid on the cross. And His cry to the Heavenly Father before He gave up His spirit. The ministry of service is sustained only by a deep love stemming from an appreciation of the high price that Jesus paid to redeem us.
Jesus looks beyond our failings and sees us as He intends us to be. Beyond Peter’s impetuous, hasty character, the Lord saw in him a steadfast and faithful apostle. In establishing the early Jerusalem Church, Peter preached and taught at Pentecost the fulfilment of the scriptures in Jesus (Acts 2). He was with John as they prayed over the Samaritan believers who received the Holy Spirit. And Jesus’ affirmation that the good news is also for the Gentiles came to Peter as he witnessed Cornelius, the Roman centurion, believe and receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 10). He paved the way for the witness of the gospel in Jerusalem, to Samaria and to the Gentiles. Indeed, only Jesus could see what Peter, empowered by His Holy Spirit could become.
“He who began the good work in you, will bring it to completion in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).