Summary: When Peter denied Christ Justice would demand that Christ would deny Peter, but that wouldn't be Grace.
Grace in an Awkward Situation
I knew something changed between us, all the talk we made was small, but what do you say to someone when they’ve heard you say it all. It’s an awkward conversation in a most peculiar way. How did we get from saying I love you to I’ll see you around some day?
I remember when I first heard that song when Great Big Sea released it late in the last century. I thought, Peter must have felt like that. What a day he had. I’m sure that he could identify with our friend Murphy. He argued with the other disciples over who would be greatest, wouldn’t let Christ wash his feet and boasted that he would die for Christ. In Gethsemane he fell asleep when he was supposed to be praying then he freaked out in the garden with a sword and cut a dude’s ear off, and then vehemently denied Christ, not once not twice but three times. Ever have one of those days? Hey stuff happens. Does it ever.
But who would have thought Peter? He was the leader of the apostles, one of Christ’s closest friends, do you remember the old hymn that said “He walks with me and he talks with me”? Peter could have written that. Like how much more spiritual can you get. But so often that is the very type of person who is subject to Satan’s greatest attack. The person in the highest position is the one with the farthest to fall.
But who was Peter? Well his birth name was Simon and he was the son of Jonas, he was the first apostle, brought to Christ by his brother Andrew, and was renamed Peter by Jesus. He was part of the inner circle with John and James the “Son’s of Thunder”. It was John and Peter who went ahead to arrange the upper room for the last supper. It was Peter who walked on the water, a man wholly devoted to Christ and yet he was still just a man.
It was Peter who said, “We know you are the Holy One of God.” And “you are the messiah sent from God.”
And when Jesus told the 12 that they would all desert him in His hour of need it was Peter who said Mark 14:29 Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.”
The phrase that is translated deserts you is actually one word in the Greek and that is σκανδαλίζω skandalizō (scan da lid zo), it’s where we get our word scandalize, and it means to trip up, stumble, entice to sin or to offend. And so Peter is saying, “Jesus I would never sin against you.”
Let’s remember that whenever we use the word never we’d better watch out, it’s an awfully big word, and an awfully long time. About the time we use that word Satan pulls out all the stops. “I don’t know how they could do that; I would never commit adultery.” “I would never cuss” “I would never lose my temper like that.”
Never is a long time. The very word stumble is indicative of the kind of mistake it is. This isn’t “Well I think I’ll go out and murder 17 people today.” This is a slip of the tongue that hurts a fellow Christian, this is a flash of anger, and this is a careless thought or action.
The second part of Peter’s boast comes two verses later in Mark 14:31 “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!”
How often have we heard such a boast, for that matter how often have we made such a boast? “O Lord I would never do anything to bring reproach on your name, even if I have to die for you.” I’m sure that Christ would concur, the problem isn’t getting people to die for you, it’s getting people to live for you.
This is week five our moments of Grace series, and we’ve looked at Grace displayed in an unlikely person, in an unlikely place, at an unlikely time and last week we saw how Jesus displayed grace at the table and he invited his 12 closest friends to celebrate with him at the last supper even knowing that those who were there would betray him, deny him and doubt him.
And we referenced this story last week, that even though Jesus knew that Peter would deny him before the night was over, he still extended his grace to him at the Last Supper.
Now let’s recognize that Peter didn’t plunge from saint to sinner overnight. How often we think that Peter got up and said, “Well this is the day.” It may appear that way but if the truth was known it just don’t happen that way. Usually a lot happens before the actual fall takes place. Satan knows that, he doesn’t open up with the heavy stuff right off, he gradually wears down the defenses and then zap he’s done it to you again.