Peter was your typical blue collar, calloused, foul-mouthed, sunburned fisherman, or at least that’s the way I imagine him at first.  I don’t get the impression Jesus chose him because of his good standing in the Jewish community.  You don’t read in his epistles anything like Paul’s boast in Philippians 3.  Peter might have said, “as to righteousness under the law…I have a few issues there.”

I was thinking about Peter today, and it occurred to me that each of us probably has a story or two reminiscent of Peter.  Three years he spent with Jesus – three years – and it was pretty much 24/7.  Peter got some prime time with the Master.  Remember, he was there with Jesus when He was transfigured .  He heard the voice of God testifying about Jesus, “This is my beloved Son; Listen to Him.”  But then there he is when Jesus could have used a little help, and he denies even knowing Jesus.

I was a brand new Christian, maybe four months into the faith.  If I wanted, I could try to excuse my sin by pointing out that I had not yet received much in the way of Christian teaching.  No one had told me that sexual activity before marriage was sinful.  I really didn’t know for sure.  So…I was blameless, right?

Returning to college after my summer break, my brother and I were talking about what we had done over the summer.  I told him I had been semi-dating a girl and, when the details were obvious, he asked the question: “What happened to you becoming all religious?”  (To me it had about the same impact as the statement, “Certainly this man also was with Him, for he too is a Galilean.”)

And just like Peter, I said, “Yeah, I don’t know.  That was last semester…”  And I felt such shame for denying I knew Him.

Twenty five years later, I still feel that shame, but it isn’t quite the same.  It is like the stiffness in my dislocated finger.  It reminds me of something that happened a long time ago, and of lessons that must not be forgotten.  Denying Him is too easy.  Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall.  It reminds me to stay away from temptation – do not even play with temptation.

Maybe you struggle with a past sin.  Perhaps you made a commitment to Christ, only to fall in a spectacular way.  Has the shame kept you from believing that God would accept you?  Have you stayed on the periphery, wishing you could grow deeper in Christ, but always fearful that your sin would find you out?  Think about Peter, brash, bold, proud…and ashamed.  Just days after denying he knew the Lord, Jesus graciously gave Peter his assignment: Feed my sheep.  Jesus’ promise to build His church on the rock of Peter was fulfilled.

If you think your sin is too much, then you have made the mistake of thinking that God cannot save you.  It takes a lot of pride (the sinful kind) to say to God, “You can’t help me”.  Ask.  Trust.  Believe.

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