Summary: Peter, like all of us, had commitment issues. He was the leader of the disciples but he denied Christ three times. He was impulsive. He cut off the ear of Malchus. But still he followed Jesus. There is hope for all of us.
John 18:15-18; 25-27
All of us have at least one. All of us have at least one sound; one noise that really annoys us. For some it is the sound of the dentist drilling in your mouth, for others it may be the sound of screeching tires on pavement or perhaps when kids used to rub their fingernails across the chalkboard. But it’s not always the sound that really bothers us. It is often the memories that go with it. If you have ever been in an accident, you know what happens when you hear screeching tires. Clench up. And when you hear it you know something painful is about to happen.
For Peter it was the crowing of a rooster. If you grew up on a farm it would be a signal to get up and start your day. But not for Peter. Jesus told Peter that before the rooster would crow three times that he would deny Jesus three times and he did. These were his words:
• woman, I don’t know him
• man, I am not one of them
• I don’t know what you’re talking about
And I figure that every time after that, when Peter would hear a rooster crow, he would clench up-it was painful. Because it reminded him of the day he denied Jesus. One, two, three times. We can honestly say that Peter had commitment issues. We know what he was like because we all know someone like that I think. We know Peter because he was quick to react---on one occasion he cut off a man’s ear. None of us do that I hope. ? We know Peter because we all have one friend like this in our lives….. Someone who reacts quickly to problems…not always in the right way but they do step up. But then we also have friends who are good friends ….. But when things are going well-they are there for us----but when things go wrong---- they are nowhere to be found.
Now when Peter stepped out and walked on the water we forget to mention that at first Peter didn’t trust completely in Jesus. Remember that his own brothers didn’t believe He was the Messiah until after the resurrection and they lived with Jesus. Peter said, Lord if that’s you... If that’s really you... then stand there while I come out on the water. Jesus says, come on out. And Peter does. And then he sinks. He sinks because he has doubts. He doubted Jesus and he doubts himself. Whether we want to admit it or not, we do the same. Right? Amen? I mean most of us, if we are honest, can really relate to Peter and also to Thomas.
• Because too many of us act before we think
• we speak before we think
• we trust ourselves but we don’t trust others
• we speak up but for all the wrong reasons
• And we do it all in one brief moment
Now here is a theological question for you. Did Jesus know how all of this was going to turn out? Did he know Peter was going to take a step? Did he knew that when he took a step he would then sink? Did he know Peter would deny him three times? I think so. And so from the very beginning, Jesus is working to create something new in Peter….He is working with what He has but He wants to change it into something new. Like taking a piece of clay and molding it. And He is doing the same for you and for me. There are these defining moments for Peter. These moments when he takes a step …when he’s called upon to testify …. And they define him for life. And you and I have them too. Thomas doubts this one time and he gets labeled forever as “Doubting Thomas.” We label others … you’re just a doubting Thomas. These moments define us. Jesus knew Peter would sink; he knew Peter would deny that he even knew him. Jesus knew Peter would fail but he also knew something else... And here it is.
1. Our failures are not final. Life is not defined by our failures. We are defined by what we do with our failures. Jesus looked at Peter and saw his future, not his failures.
I think we relate to Peter because we really, really want to be like Jesus but when it comes down to the bottom line---when it comes down to that moment when we are called upon to make to make that commitment, we deny him, we sink; we have more words than we have actions. In short, we have commitment issues. When it comes time to pull the trigger, to cross the line, to step up to the plate, we sink.