Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED.’ “But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too. Matthew 26:31-35
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away.” Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. Matthew 26:69-75
I heard this morning to share my experience recently. And I was reminded of these words. About a week ago, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me I was going to do something that I thought I did not want to do. When you hear things like this, you immediately think of the devil. I even had a dream about it and prayed, rebuking the enemy away from me and I even tried avoiding the situation. But over the course of the last few days, something happened within me to give me peace about my looming choice and to remind me of my own humanity–my own fallen state.
As I shared this with some of my friends, I was reminded of Paul in Romans 7 (look at verses 14 through 25)–that the things I want to do I don’t do and the things I do not want to do I do. It reminded me of my own sinful nature. You see here I cannot blame the enemy for what happened, I had to look at myself because I chose to make a choice about something. I chose to go forward in that direction. And looking at this from a wider lens, I was reminded that we all have free will. Yes temptation will come, but we ultimately have to make the choice to act on these things. Over the last year, a change has taken place within me, involving forgiveness and much introspection…and in this process, I have truly grown, recognizing my need for God and His love more than ever. During this time, I have fought with the age-old tactic of the enemy of using condemnation to guilt me into not talking to God after I have fallen short. This is not a license to sin, but a key reminder of my need to cling to the Father even harder so that He can continue His work within me. So even now, I do not feel condemned. This experience sparked a dialogue within myself with the Father, causing me to ask question after question. As a result, it taught me a great lesson: no matter what we do, God still loves us and like the Prodigal Son, will welcome us with open arms when we return to Him. God loves those of us who have fallen short, those who have killed people (i.e. Moses, David, and Paul), those who were fearful (i.e. Moses, Elijah, and Timothy), those who were adulterous (i.e David), those who were liars (Joseph), and so many more things. He used a prostitute (Rahab) and a foreigner (Ruth) to save the Jews. He even restored Peter–doubting, boastful, denying Peter–as the foundation for the church. And He will continue to use even me. I am not perfect. I have hated peopled, hurt people, and hurt myself. I am not sinless (honestly, somebody ticks me off on a daily basis and I have told a lie or two or fifty–just joking..not really!!)
I guess this served to remind me how much God loves me even in my weaknesses and how He is willing to go to such great lengths to show me that there is still more to this journey. I appreciate it because just as Jesus restored Peter and he went forth to be one of the leaders of the church–God has already restored me. This is important to those of us who minister and those who are being ministered to because it reminds us of our principal need for the Father. And just as the rooster crowed for me, and reminded me of what had already been spoken, it saved me from myself and showed me of my need for God.
Long ago the LORD said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. Jeremiah 31:3
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” John 21:15-19