11 Apr From Denial To Reconciliation
WRITTEN BY: Tom Pine
The story of Easter, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is one that many people around the world have heard, at least at the basics. Chances are you’ve heard he died on a cross and rose from the dead. Beyond the basics though, there is so much to explore about all the people, places, and events surrounding the first Easter. When I think of all the smaller stories woven throughout the larger story of Easter, there is one that has always resonated with me—Peter’s denial of Jesus. For me, this story is so powerful that it has stuck with me since the first time that I heard it as a child.
If you’re not familiar with this story from the Bible, then I would encourage you to read through an account of it; there is one in each of the four Gospels. However, I’ll give you a quick summary, using Matthew 26:31-75 (NLT) for reference. Peter was a follower of Jesus, in fact, he was one of Jesus’ twelve closest disciples. What this means is that throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, Peter walked alongside him witnessing Jesus perform miracles and preach to the masses, gaining godly instruction from him. Peter was there throughout it all and was with Jesus until the very end… well, almost.
Just before Jesus was arrested, he told his disciples that they would all abandon him (v.31). However, Peter was quick to retort that he would never do such a thing, going as far as to say, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” (v.35). Jesus was taken into custody by Roman soldiers, starting the series of events that would lead directly to his death on the cross. And guess what? Every one of the twelve disciples deserted Jesus—yes, even Peter.
How could someone who walked alongside Jesus, someone who witnessed the miracles, go as far as denying that he even knew Jesus? What was Peter’s downfall? It can be summed up with two missteps:
Too Much Pride
In response to Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s betrayal, Peter insists, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” (v.33). As humans, we have a dangerous tendency to become overconfident in our own ability to follow Jesus. However, it’s by God’s grace alone that we continue to follow in his ways. Peter was fortunate enough to speak directly with Jesus, but chances are that you’re like me and have never heard the audible voice of God. Just because we cannot hear directly from the mouth of God, it does not mean that he’s silent about warnings of sin. The Bible is a great resource for us to look at to see forewarnings of where we have potential to miss the mark. When we start saying, “I never will”, it’s time for a pride check.
Too Little Practice
Jesus warns Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane to “keep watch and pray so that you will not give in to temptation.” (v.41) But while Jesus was praying, Peter was sleeping. Prayer is practice for life, which is why as a church we talk so much about getting into a “Slot and Spot”, a time and place with God. Jesus warned Peter about his betrayal, and instead of getting on his knees, Peter decided to sleep his worries away. If we are serious about combating Satan and avoiding the pitfalls of sin, then we need to practice!
The Good News
Thankfully, the credits don’t roll on Peter’s story at his denial. In John 21:12-17 (NLT), we see Jesus resurrected and appearing to the disciples. After eating breakfast, Jesus pulls Peter aside to speak with him. He asks Peter, not once or twice, but three times, “Do you love me?” (v.15, 16, 17). Notice that this is the same number of times he denied Jesus. Peter was given the same opportunity that we are given today—to confess our love for Jesus, so that we can have reconciliation with our Lord and Savior.
During Easter, we are reminded that God does not leave us in our state of denial, and it doesn’t matter where you find yourself in your faith journey, there is hope for reconciliation. Maybe you haven’t taken that first step of acknowledging Jesus as The Lord and Savior of your life. Wherever you are, let me encourage you to take that next step. If you are not already doing so, begin by practicing a “Slot and Spot”. When Jesus is the center of our life, we no longer deny what is rightfully his, and instead we live a life that exemplifies the statement, “Jesus, I love you”.
Stewardship & Giving J-Teamer
Tom Pine and his family have been gathering at The Journey since 2016. Tom is incredibly thankful for the many opportunities and various ways that The Journey has given him to serve.
For more on Peter’s story, check out this YouVersion devotional.
For further inspiration, check out The Journey’s latest series, “Moments That Matter“!