From Trusting In Your Promises to Trusting in God’s Promises [Part 2]
Are you ready for some good news?
When Peter tried to be obedient because of his promises to Jesus, he failed, but when he quit trying to focus on what he could do for Jesus and started focusing on what Jesus had done for him, he became obedient.
Today’s Text: “Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.” (Matthew 26:33–35, ESV)
If Peter had denied Jesus just once, we might write it off as a fluke. Just a moment of flesh. But Peter ramps up his denial until, the third time, some scholars suggest, Peter cursed Jesus in order to make his denial more convincing.
Why do we think that ramping up our oaths to God will empower us? Because the flesh gravitates to performance based living. We gravitate to legalism. It puts us in charge. If I do good for God, He will do good for me. When we ramp up our oaths to the full, we attach ramifications to it if we don’t keep our oath. Like making someone put their hand on the Bible and swear to tell the truth. Why the Bible? Because, the judicial system in effect is saying, God will get you if you tell a lie.
Peter was positive that he’d never deny Jesus. But his denials of Jesus were even more adamant than his vow to never do so.
But the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever.
In the unusual exchange between Jesus and Peter in John 21, the English translations can’t capture the beauty and wonder of Jesus’ blessing. Jesus asks Peter if he has “agape” love for Him (unconditional love, the way God loves us). Peter says, I have “phileo” love (affection, friendship love). Jesus asks a second time, do you have “agape” love for Me? Peter responds again that he has “phileo” love for Christ. The third time, Jesus changes His word and asks, “Do you have “phileo” love for me?” And Peter says yes, “phileo.”
What’s happened? Peter has become honest. Peter has become real. Jesus says, Peter, do you love me like I love you? Do you love me with steadfast, invincible flaming love that cannot be quenched or ever denied? And Peter responds, ‘No, I don’t love you nearly like you love me.” In that moment, a moment of humility and honesty, Jesus knew Peter was ready to be used by God. Peter preached at Pentecost, changed the world and one day died for his faith.
Your vow to God has no power, but God’s vow to you has all the power in the world. And that’s the Gospel!
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