Thursday, November 13, 2008

the grand weenie of the disciples: peter’s great wimp-out

I have always admired Peter despite his famous denial of Christ. At least Peter tried to hang around to find out what was happening to Jesus while everyone else ran off. All four Gospels have accounts of Peter's denial. However in John 18 there is an added detail. A detail I’ve supposedly read many times but this morning I seem to have noticed for the first time. After the arrest of Jesus,

Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”
~ John 18:15-17 (ESV)

So Peter wasn’t the only one not to run away; there were two disciples who trailed Jesus. The other disciple had connections which allowed Peter and him to enter into the court of the high priest. Now this is what I find strange. The other guy with connections is known to be a follower of Jesus. We know this by the servant girl’s question asking if Peter was also a disciple; also meaning in addition to the disciple who got him in to the court.

What was Peter thinking when he denied Christ? It must have been really quite obvious since he was following Jesus with a known disciple of Jesus. As if Peter’s Galilean accent wasn’t enough of a tip-off. That is one extreme wimp-out, denying the obvious. The other guy went in there knowing that everyone knew he was a disciple.

This morning I suddenly lost my respect for Peter. It turns out he was the Grand Weenie of the Disciples.

Then it happened. It usually happens when I judge others. It seems whenever I point my finger at someone I soon notice that three others are pointed back at me.

Just before his denial, maybe at most one or two hours before, Peter had pulled out a sword and was ready to take on a whole squad of Roman soldiers in order to try to stop Jesus from being arrested. That was not a good move for someone who was worried about dying.

Peter was no coward in the garden.

What happened? Maybe it was the same sort of thing that has happened to me far too many times. I take a stand; maybe I have victory over some temptation. I think, “I’ve licked that sin, full-of-faith, mighty man of God that I am.” Soon after I cave into the same sin as a result of some temptation that is minor by comparison. It is often an embarrassingly minor temptation at that.

Nope. I think I have Peter beat for deserving the title, “Grand Weenie of the Disciples.”

It was Peter’s flesh that caused him to pull out the sword in the garden. It was Peter’s flesh that later caused him to wimp out in the court of the high priest. Peter didn’t, and I won’t, have victory by relying on the flesh. If you struggle in the flesh with sin, you end up fighting flesh with flesh. That is foolish. What is going to win? Sinful flesh!

How did we become justified, achieve victory over sin when we were saved? Repent and receive the grace of God. How do we achieve victory over sin after we are saved? The same way: Repent and receive the grace of God. Past guilt of sin, present failures, and future unfaithfulness all are dealt with in the same way: Repent and receive the grace of God.

Remember dear soul, how you then were led contrary to all that your experience, and your feelings, and even your sober judgment said, to take Jesus at His word, and how you were not disappointed. He did receive you, and pardon you; He did love you and save you –you know it. And if He did this for you when you were an enemy and a stranger, what think you, now that you are His own, will He not much more fulfil his promise?
~ Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ (5th Day, italics added)

I am learning, albeit excruciatingly slowly, not to struggle with sin; to lose all self-confidence in my self-effort. Sometimes I remember to not even attempt to partner with God so as to leverage my prideful, fleshly strength with God’s strength. Should I think for even a second that God wants to use His strength to glorify my flesh, to glorify the utter corruption of all that is in my nature?

I need to remember that my confidence comes from knowing that being justified by faith, I have peace with God. The righteous shall live by faith. My confidence is that He put sin to death and that he will continue to put sin to death. He is my justification. He is my righteousness.

When I forget all that, when I struggle with sin, when I fight the flesh with flesh, when I think that my own strength is even partially necessary, that is when I set the stage for me becoming the Grand Weenie of the Disciples.

Be blessed.

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