Not long ago, I wrote about similar weaknesses that I seem to have with the Apostle Peter that tend to get in my way when I’m meant to give God control. And I actually believe there’s more to be said on the subject.
It’s a very important practice to be able to notice where you fit within the Scriptures. For instance, God’s sanctifying work in a person’s life while they grow in their relationship with Him is founded on the reality of their brokenness and need for His sovereign power to begin to mold them more and more into the image of Christ. If we don’t recognize that His death in our place happened while we were still sinners and enemies of His, we lose a massive amount of the gratitude that we should have while appreciating how He restores and reconciles us with Himself.
Another example comes from my connection with Peter’s weaknesses. When we see similarities between ourselves and others in Scripture, we’re able to see how God worked to minister in their hearts and change their lives. I walk away from the Scriptures and I’m simultaneously humbled by the weaknesses Peter and I share and immensely grateful that God chooses to redeem us all the same.
If you would like a window into my mind as I’m processing this, I’ll note that Peter and I often vacillate between fear turned outwards (cutting off the high priest servant’s ear – John 18:10) and fear turned inwards (crumbling in failure and shame – Luke 22:55-62).
When Peter turned his fear outwards during the night that Jesus was betrayed, he and the other disciples were spending time with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane where they were known to spend time together. They then witnessed their friend, Judas, meander onto the scene with soldiers and officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. If there was any question as to what would be occurring during this interaction, they likely found their answers when they noticed these men were carrying lanterns and torches (implying their mission was necessary to carry out right away, even with a search party at night) and weapons.
What would be going through your mind if you were in Peter’s shoes? I can tell you that, after hearing all that Jesus had to share about how His life would end and seeing how the religious elites responded to His ministry throughout His time there, I would be incredibly fearful and I can imagine the pit in my stomach. I can feel the dizzying sensation I would have in my head whenever I’m aware that something terrible is about to happen.
When Jesus offered Himself up to the officials and asked that His friends be let go, Peter’s fear turned dangerous when he drew a sword and cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant. In response, Jesus had to heal the harm that His follower had done (Luke 22:51). Yet again, He rebuked Peter for getting in the way of God’s work when He said, “Put your sword away! Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11). Jesus had to undo the damage done at Peter’s hands in the face of his overwhelming fears.
I see myself in that story. But you know what? Jesus can handle my brokenness.
I can briefly mention the other passage as well. In Luke 22, Peter was afraid of being associated with Jesus after His arrest. Infamously, he denied knowing his rabbi and close friend three times which was no surprise to Jesus as He had told Peter, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times” (Luke 22:60). What did Peter do? He crumbled. He “went outside and wept bitterly”(Luke 22:61).
Later on, he would flee his shame and revert back to fishing, even after Jesus had made him a fisher of men. Being so let down by his own shortcomings, he denied Jesus’s calling on his life. However, when Jesus rose again and met some of His disciples on the shore to enjoy breakfast as He would have done before His crucifixion, He confronted Peter’s fears once more. He asked Peter three times, “Simon … do you love me?” (John 21:16-19). Peter answered, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Then Jesus told Peter each of the three times to feed His sheep. To follow Him. To care for His people.
This story breaks me. How many times have I fled from what God was calling me to out of fear and shame? How many times have I let myself get distracted by my limitations, ignoring the sovereign power that God has over all things, including my own issues. How many times have I, like Peter, settled for the mistake-prone version of myself and the “too broken to be of value to Jesus” mentality and ignored His healing grace for me? It’s the story of my life.
But again, I see what God did with Peter. He redeemed Peter’s weakness. Jesus called Peter back to Himself. It’s miraculous what He does with our brokenness!
Tyler Zach wrote that “only the enduring love and limitless grace of Jesus could have turned a fearful liar into the courageous, de facto leader of the first century church! Do you believe He can create the same transformation in you?“
I don’t know what God will do with my life. I know I won’t become the de facto leader of the first century church or anything remotely to that degree, but I do know that my life and testimony will display the grace and mercy of a Father in heaven who loves me so much that He pursues me time and time and time again.
Whose story in Scripture do you have commonalities with? Do you see the mess they were? Do you also see that God redeems even the worst of sinners? Don’t be discouraged by your imperfections, neediness, failures, inadequacies, incapabilities, fears, limitations, vulnerability, or lack of stability. He’s what you’re looking for. Co-opting the famous quote from Fred Rogers’ mother – when you see scary things in the world around you, or especially within yourself, look for the Helper. You will always find our God who is helping. You will always find our Redeemer who has plans to make us whole.
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff