The God of Second Chances (Ps T L Mukumba) 28-Mar-2021
The God of Second Chances
Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62
In this passage, Peter, the delegate of the Twelve, tumbles to the absolute bottom of disappointment in teaching, giving a negative model almost as bad as the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. This record show additionally how weak we can be as leaders. One would think that there would have been embarrassment about reciting the failure of such a prominent leader in early Christianity but I think this is lesson to us all to say we all can fall. It is a testimony to show and remind us of our need for the Lord’s strength every day. The struggle is real, but I would also want to say the victory is real, all we need is Jesus Christ. He is the author and the finisher of our faith. He is the resurrection of our life. Oh the bible say the righteous falls seven times and he rises again.
Peter turned into a significant leader in the church, and there is no reason to believe that any of the Gospels were written to impugn his reputation. Rather, this story probably demonstrated that even the respected leaders of the church were totally dependent upon the merciful forgiveness of Jesus for their participation in the fellowship that bore his name. In this way Jesus is magnified. We are all placed at the level of mere human beings who depends on God’s strength.
Having been cautioned effectively that they would face persecutions and trials (13:9–13), we are given in Peter's story an admonition of the disgrace of denying our Lord. Peter’s tears (14:72b) denote this shame, and the tearful Peter is an example of what it means to deny one’s faith in Christ. If denying Jesus Christ was feasible for an apostle and a leader of the apostles at that level then we should continually be careful for ourselves, in case we, as well, deny Jesus unknowingly.
After the temple guards seized the Lord, they “led him away, and brought him into the high priest’s house,” and “Peter was following at a distance” (Mark 14:54). The fact that Peter was there at all indicates that he loved Jesus and was concerned about him, but his love did not withstand the test of fear.
“Peter was following at a distance” This statement is loaded with meaning. He’s gradually disassociating himself from the Lord. We cannot safely follow Jesus from a distance. We are meant to be close to him. The Lord had warned Peter that Satan was looking to destroy him, and Peter responded very confidently: “Lord, I’m ready to go with you both to prison and to death”.
Peter is like those brothers that be talking’ ’bout, “I ain’t scared to go to prison.” But you remember what the Lord said in return in Mark14:34: “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know me.”
In the courtyard the people make a fire. They plan to be there a while. “Peter sat among them” (Mark 14:55). Peter was cold and set on the enemy’s fire. Psalm 1:1 says, How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers!
Apparently Peter has forgotten that verse. He goes from following or walking with the crowd some distance from Jesus, to standing in the courtyard, to sitting among them. That’s when the three denials happen. First, “a servant” girl takes a good look at Peter. You can see her leaning in by the light of the fire, observing Peter. When she’s sure, she says, “This man was with him too.” Her contempt for Jesus is revealed in the order of the words she used to speak about him—“that Nazarene, Jesus”
Peter denies it. He sounds indignant. “Woman, I don’t know him.” Peter was fearful, concerned and anxious for his own safety. Yet he still could not bring himself to abandon Jesus completely. So he tiptoed/sneaked into the darkness and safety of the archway to escape detection. His retreat to safety was short leaved. The servant girl saw him slip into the entryway and she reiterated her contention again.
She said “This fellow is one of them”. But Peter denies the Lord again, saying, “Man, I am not!” He had Two opportunities to be loyal. Two opportunities to claim Jesus as his Master. Two lies. Two rejections. The rooster is stirring. “About an hour later.” Perhaps Peter began to relax in that hour. Perhaps he thought no one else would bother him. Maybe he thought his lies had worked. Maybe in that hour the very earliest rays of dawn began to crack the sky.
Peter’s Galilean accent sold him out this time and a third man rises up and speaks again: “This man was certainly with him, since he’s also a Galilean.” This unnamed man not only recognized Peter as a disciple but also Peter’s connection with Galilee and Jesus’s ministry in that area. Now Peter vehemently denied knowing Jesus.
Peter reacted like someone that have been cornered. He was cursing and swearing in objection to identification and accusation, “He said he did not know this man they were talking about”. Please note the first two times Peter had denied being associated with Jesus. The last time he denied Jesus himself. As the words left Peter’s mouth, “Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed”.
Luke 22:61: “Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter.” Everything that needed to be said was in their eyes. All they needed to understand was transferred in a look. What if Peter had responded differently to the servant girl’s look or the man’s look of recognition, or taken a moment to acknowledge that, yes, he looked like a Galilean? If Peter had been honest in those earlier looks, could he have avoided this final look? If he had thought nothing of the knowing looks of the people in the courtyard, could he have avoided the knowing look of the Lord? That look from the Lord was followed by Peter’s memory of what the Lord had said regarding a rooster. It was a look of love, to be sure, but injured love.
Words that penetrate the heart brings repentance. When he remembered the words, his heart was broken, and this caused bitter tears to come out of a man who’d rejected his Lord. In the looks and the tears, we learn something. We cannot try to avoid looking like Christ’s followers and hope that the Lord would look at us with approval. In fact, Jesus says that if we deny him on earth before men he will deny us in heaven before God (21:9).
Before we judge Peter too severely, there’s a tremendous difference between Judas and Peter in this chapter. Judas intentionally sold Jesus out. Judas was “the son of destruction” (John 17:12). He was an unrepentant man destined for condemnation. But Peter failed the Lord despite his honest commitment to the Lord. That’s why the Lord restores Peter before the story is over. Peter really did want to ride or die with Jesus. He really intended to stand with Jesus. But in the hour of darkness, Peter’s courage failed him.
There’s a tremendous difference between wickedness (Judas) and weakness (Peter). Wickedness receives condemnation. Weakness receives help and comfort. Nothing could be more important than making an accurate diagnosis of our failures. Do they come from wickedness or weakness? The Lord rejects the wicked, but he will receive the weak. He invites them, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28).
Before you judge Peter severely we need to examine our lives. How many times have we denied the Lord and lost the opportunities to share the gospel with others. Do we like Peter talk when we should listen, argue when should obey, sleep when we should pray, and fight when we should submit. Peter at least was sorry for his sins and wept over them and the Lord forgave him
I want to tell something, Christ knew Peter’s weakness, and like today he also knows our weakness. Are you weak? Christ is strong! Are you unable to stand in the hour of temptation? Run to Christ, who defeats your temptation. Do not try to stand in your own strength. Fall into your weakness and discover the strong arms of God. Weakness is but an invitation to trust the Lord Jesus Christ with what we cannot trust ourselves: our souls.
The story provides assurance that if anyone did fail Jesus under the duress of persecution, there is always a way open for repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. It is no accident that at the gospel’s conclusion the angel tells the women to report the resurrection to “[Jesus’] disciples and Peter” (16:7). This assures Peter’s was restored, because God was aware of His weakness.
Peter went on to provide apostolic leadership. You will also was restored in everything that you lost in Jesus name. Jesus alone is the strength of our lives. Our salvation was not aided by human instruments but Him alone.
In 1 Peter 5:1, Peter says, "The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:" How could Peter have forgotten that he reject Lord during crucifixion and during the hour of His real need? He (Peter) had accepted his second chance and forgotten the past. I dont know what wrong you have done but I urge to forget the past and press on towards the higher calling of God. Our God is a forgiving God. When He forgives He forgets. Receive your second chance and move forward.