A few Sundays ago, our minister preached about the Apostle Peter. Have you ever given Peter much thought? A lot of people have. He's one of the more popular apostles to study because he's so likeable. Brash, rash, quick to act, slow to think, Peter reminds us a lot of us.
Our minister made an interesting point about Peter in the upper room. Picture it. Christ is there in the Holy City, observing Passover with his closest friends and followers. For Peter and the others, it may have felt like a Christmas or Easter dinner. For Christ, it was very different. His time was short, and he was under the gun.
Jesus tried to prepare His disciples. "Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now" (John 13:36). Imagine the awkward silence that followed. Peter's response? Why not? I'm going to go with you, and nobody is going to hurt you, Jesus. I'm not going to let anything bad happen to you. I'll die before I let anyone touch you (v. 37).
Peter always had good intentions, and sometimes those good intentions slightly missed the mark.
At that point, all Peter was thinking about was how he was going to save the Lord. He had no idea how powerless, how feeble he really was. He thought Christ's death would be a defeat, and he was ready to stop at nothing to prevent it.
Christ's response? "You're going to deny me three times tonight." Jesus was basically saying, "You're going to die for ME, Peter? No. I'm going to die for YOU."
Sometimes I, like Peter, get caught up in this idea of achievement. I feel like I need to do good things in order to earn God's love and acceptance. Or I feel like through my own merit I'm going to do something great to help the Lord out. It's not that working for the Lord is wrong. It's that I'm not starting at the right place. I'm starting from me rather than God. I'm drawing from the shallow puddle of my own strength rather than from the deep well of Jesus' power.
Peter had a grand vision. They were going to mock Jesus and put him on trial, and he, Peter, was going to boldly stand up and defy the elders of Israel and lay down his life for Jesus. It didn't quite happen that way. Peter hid in the shadows. When the bystanders questioned him, he quickly denied any connection with Christ.
Jesus died for Peter when Peter was at his worst, his lowest moment. I can think back to some of my lowest moments. Jesus died for me with full knowledge of how low I'd sink. He loved me anyway.
After Christ resurrected from the grave and bestowed the Holy Spirit on the apostles, everything changed.
Peter got it. It clicked!
Peter knew he couldn't do anything for Christ of his own strength. It wasn't about any great achievement of his own. When Christ said, "Feed my lambs," Peter knew where to start. He knew what to feed them with — the gospel. When Peter grasped the good news, he was a man on fire! It wasn't about what he could do, it was about what Christ ALREADY DID! It wasn't about his story. It was about Christ's story. He experienced a complete and total turnaround, a one-eighty.
Then, Peter was prepared to make good on his promise. Peter did sacrifice everything for the gospel message. He suffered and died for it. But this time, Peter was motivated by the Holy Ghost, propelled by the Spirit, fueled by the power of love.
I need to remember this in my life. Many times I get caught up in grand visions of what I'm going to do for the Lord. Instead, I need to keep my eyes on what Christ already did for me. He died for me. He restored the gospel. He has great plans for the future. And if I stay close to Him, I may have the honor of playing a small part in His grand vision.