Yesterday, I mentioned that there were two things that spoke to me during my pastor’s Easter message.
The first was that Easter is a time of cleansing and fresh starts.
The second thing that my pastor talked about, which I found interesting, was that during the last days of Jesus’ life here on earth, Peter often and unjustly stands alone in our criticism of the disciples. Too often, poor Peter is the go-to example of what not to do when faced with a situation where we must stand up for our faith.
Peter, the one whom Jesus promises to use to build up the church (Matt. 16:18) and who is supposed to be a superstar of faith, fails so miserably right from the start. Matthew 26 tells how good old Peter falls asleep when Jesus tells him to stay awake and pray, abandons Jesus in the garden, and denies Christ during the rooster’s crows.
Peter’s Denial, by Carl Heinrich Bloch (Danish Painter; 1834-1890)
After that, it doesn’t get any better for Peter. Matthew’s gospel doesn’t mention Peter by name again. Peter was not mentioned during Jesus’ trial, crucifixion or burial. The guy Jesus chose to become the leader of his people, was no where to be found. It makes us want to ask God what he was thinking appointing Peter as head of the church.
For the record, Mark’s gospel doesn’t mention Peter by name after his denial either. Luke and John had a different account, neither of which held Peter in the best of light either. And let’s not forget that Peter has run-ins with Paul later on that doesn’t fare well for Peter either.
But something my pastor said, that made me wonder why I forgot this, was that Peter was not alone in his betrayal of Christ.
“Then all the disciples left him and fled.” Matt. 26: 56b
“Then they all left him and fled.” Mark 14:50
Peter wasn’t the only disciple denying Christ at that time; they all did. Every last one of them ran away when trouble first appeared. Peter wasn’t alone when Jesus rebuked the disciples for not staying awake and praying. He certainly wasn’t the only one in the garden when they took Jesus away. Even though Peter was the only one who verbally denied Christ three times, every single one of the disciples proved to be chickens.
And let’s not forget that after Christ’s resurrection, Peter wasn’t the only one down in the dumps and had doubts about what happened to Jesus. Nope; they all sinned and “fled” their friend, confidant, master and savior.
I realize that the lesson in scriptures regarding Peter’s shortcomings is there to remind us that God often elevates people who fail miserably. It’s honestly humbling. Someday, I hope to walk up to Peter and give him a great big hug and tell him I can identify with him. His spirit was willing, but his flesh was weak (Matt. 26: 41), just like I often find is the case with myself. I especially feel that way about this blog. Like Peter, I hope to do better.
Can you identify with Peter? Do you want to serve God, but often find that you fall short of what you want to do or feel led to do? Take comfort that, just like Peter, you are not alone. There are so many of us who feel the same way. Keep praying and searching God’s plan for your life, and remember that God used each and every one of those disciples to further his mission even though they all faltered. They all won in the end, with Christ declaring them “good and faithful servants” (Matt. 25:33).
Remember, Easter is a time for fresh starts. Just as Peter and the disciples got their fresh start on Easter, you can have your’s too. This Easter season, I’m getting a fresh start with this blog, working on behalf of the persecuted church. What’s on your list to start anew this Easter season?
Next time . . . One last thought about poor Peter.