Arrogance creates some horrible situations for people who belong to God. The aspect of arrogance this lesson addresses is not the flamboyant personality that loves to exaggerate and is determined to focus attention on self as "the superior" one. This person is known by everyone as arrogant, but the person himself or herself is oblivious to his or her arrogance. This lesson speaks of the person who is genuine in his or her commitment, but regards certain ungodly behavior as being impossible to commit, beneath him or her.
Satan is extremely shrewd and knows no limits to his commitment to the downfall of people who follow God. Those who seek to be godly are limited in their scenarios to their own imagination. Satan is not limited to our imagination in contriving his devices. Satan loves to put those who seek to be godly in situations they never imagined. Those are the situations that can take the heart out of people who are Jesus' devoted disciples. When people devoted to Jesus do things they did not think they were capable of doing, they are disillusioned in major ways.
Peter was genuinely committed to Jesus. He left his livelihood to follow Jesus. He placed following Jesus as being more important than what his society regarded as being responsible in caring for his wife. He was the first who knew, by revelation, that Jesus was the Christ. By Jesus' choice, he was one of the "inner three" in the twelve--only he, James, and John witnessed such things as Jesus' transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-3).
Peter knew moments of humiliation--like the moment he dared rebuke Jesus. Yet, Peter recovered. He continued being Jesus' disciple in spite of his mistakes. However, he simply could not imagine a situation in which he would forsake Jesus. Such simply would not happen!
Jesus declared in an illustration all the disciples understood that the shepherd would be killed and his sheep would be scattered. Peter understood that portion of the illustration. The idea that he would desert Jesus was beyond Peter's comprehension. As we would say, "The very idea!" Peter knew he was capable of a lot of things, but deserting Jesus was not one of them!
Even if loyalty to Jesus meant death, he would die with Jesus rather than deny Jesus. This was not an idle statement made when there was calm and no threats! Matthew 26:47 declares Judas was accompanied by "a great multitude with swords and clubs." John 18:3 stated that multitude included a Roman cohort as well as officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees (are these Roman soldiers and the temple guard?). Peter used one of two swords (see Luke 22:38, 49-51 and Matthew 26:52-53) which the twelve had to defend Jesus. Peter was ready to die! A former fisherman is no match for a large group of professional soldiers! Peter would die fighting against the odds, but not standing, doing nothing.
Can you imagine what a ridiculous waste Peter witnessed? Look into Peter's thoughts as his mind raced in the betrayal event. "This is the man who raised Lazarus from death! This is the man who faced all of you in Jerusalem this week! Why doesn't he defend himself? Someone has to do something! Dying like this is such a waste, so useless!" How many times would we stand against evil if we could do it "our way?" How many times would we take a position if doing so made sense to us in the circumstances? Was Peter any different?
Who knows what Peter envisioned? Whatever it was, it was not what was happening. Nothing takes the heart and fight out of us more than the unexpected. When the unexpected happens, we typically feel overwhelmed and defeated. It was a confused, overwhelmed, defeated Peter who ran.
To Peter's credit, he came back. It seems he came back to see what would happen to Jesus. He never envisioned the awkward circumstances that just watching Jesus would cause on that cold evening. He was in the courtyard, not inside the house where the proceedings happened, when a servant girl said he was with Jesus. He responded. "You do not know what you are saying." He went near the gate of the courtyard, and another servant girl said he was with Jesus. This time he denied knowing Jesus with an oath. Still later, bystanders said the way he spoke proved he belonged to the group who followed Jesus. Peter responded by cursing and swearing as he affirmed he did not know Jesus. Revealed by servants and bystanders!
Then the rooster crowed. At the sound of the crowing, he remembered Jesus' statement about him denying Jesus three times. Thoroughly defeated and disillusioned with himself, he went into the night weeping bitterly.
It was this man who preached the first sermon about Jesus in Jerusalem to Jewish people in Acts 2. It was this man who was so esteemed in Jerusalem that people brought their sick to Jerusalem streets in the hope that Peter's shadow might fall on the sick and heal them (Acts 5:15, 16). It was this man that the Lord used to deliver the first sermon to the gentiles (Acts 10). It was this man who was the first witness in Acts 15 to verify that God intended gentiles to become Christians without becoming Jewish proselytes.
Even though he denied Jesus three times, Peter (with the Lord's forgiveness) recovered. Because he had the courage to repent, the Lord made use of him.
The issue is not have you made grave mistakes. The issue is do you have the courage to repent. Do you have the courage to let the Lord use you in spite of your mistakes?
For Thought and Discussion
Link to Teacher's Guide
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