Don't Peter-Out

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Well Easter is behind us, quite literally I am afraid, as I seem to have the chocolate bunny that I ate permanently attached to my rear end now!  It’s hard to see things from hind sight sometimes…right?  Sometimes the choices that we make come to bite us in the butt later on or at least follow us for a while.  Can you relate?

I am thinking most of you probably have something you can recall that you aren’t happy to admit that you did…yes?  Well, if you don’t then don’t bother reading any further because none of this will make sense to you.  This is for the people that know they have screwed up before.  It’s for people who know they have done something that actually needed forgiveness. My question is, did you receive it?  Did you receive it from another but never really forgave yourself?

Okay, now I know I have the right crowd to go on this journey.  I want to look at a couple things before that first Easter and then after, in hopes we can learn a point or two that we can incorporate into our lives.

We probably all know the story of Peter’s denial of Christ pretty well but let’s look at it anyway.  Jesus is taken from the Garden of Gethsemane and brought to the High Priest to undergo trial.  It is not looking good for Jesus and Peter follows but from a distance and then waits out in the courtyard.

Now let’s go to Matthew 26:69-75.

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.  But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”  After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”  Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”  Immediately a rooster crowed.  Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Peter not only denies knowing Jesus, he swears he doesn’t know Him.  It would be like a good friend of yours swearing to a group of people that he doesn’t even know you and then topping it off with a few cuss words.  Doesn’t a well-positioned cuss word sometime just seal the deal?   Nothing like putting a “damn it” at the end of some statement to get people to leave you alone about it.  Right?  Well that’s where we find Peter.  And then the rooster crows.  Then he remembers what Jesus said, and worse, he remembers what he said to Jesus.  He remembers that he told Jesus he never would deny Him.  He told Jesus he would die for him but then when push came to shove…his faith failed.  And he went outside and wept bitterly.

When life gets challenging and people start to question us about Christ and our faith how many times have we tossed the whole thing out like it was bath water instead of Living water?  How many times have we denied knowing Christ when we were in sticky situations or when people put us on the spot?  How many times has it been easier to follow the crowd that to stand up for what you believe in?  How easy is it for you to Peter-out on Christ?

I don’t know about you but I have Petered-out many times in my faith journey.  I have followed the crowd into gossip like a kid going into a candy shop.  But it didn’t stop there, I have been sweet talked by the enemy enough to partake in the snacking and then I was left feeling out of control.  Oh, how it felt so good at the time to just hang with the crowd and indulge in the fabulous feast of gossip before me.  How juicy.  But afterwards, I have had a terrible gut ache and I have done what Peter did, wept bitterly and really regretted it.  It was even worse if you were caught.  Right?  Ever have something come bite you in the butt later, follow you, or worse, stick with you for a while and it seemed hard to lose?  I can’t help but think of that 5 extra pounds that I need to lose after this Easter.  I will have to suffer to do that and don’t we have to suffer a bit when we partake in sin too?  Sometimes it takes a while to get rid of the effects of it.

I want you to see something.  If you look at John’s account of this story, you find out he was there too.  If you know anything about the disciples Peter and John, you probably know that the two of them were a little competitive.  They both ran to the tomb that Sunday morning, although John beat out Peter.  And to tell you the truth, John would have been a pain to be around.  He was a goody-goody.  He always refers to himself as the disciple Jesus loves.  How annoying, especially when you are Peter, the great talker but not always the great performer.  His intentions are good but he didn’t always have the faith to keep it up.  So there Peter is, doing what he said he would never do right in front of the one that probably rubbed him wrong in the first place.  Think about that for a minute.  Ever screw up in front of someone you wanted to show up?  Ugh!

You know, I always feel a little bad going back to God again after such an obvious mistake.  I kind of want to hide from Him a little or ignore Him.  How about you?  If you are thinking, yes, then let me tell you that we humans are not all that different.  What did Adam and Eve do in the garden after their screw up?  Hid.  God called to them and they did not readily answer.  They wanted to hide from Him and ignore Him but they didn’t do that with a lot of success and nor do we.  The effects of sin are not all that different than what Adam and Eve had either.  We will feel shameful, naked and vulnerable and so we want to hide from God but it is impossible to hide from God so what happens when we try to do that is we end up hiding from others instead.  I don’t know about you but if I am naked, I am not likely to go out and meet new people!  If I am vulnerable, I am not likely ready to take the risk of loving someone.  If I feel shameful,  I am not likely to be very open with anyone.   I think eventually we would see that if we try to stay hidden from God, we end up separating ourselves from others.  God is always with us.  Nothing can separate us from Him.  But our attempts to separate ourselves from God will only separate us from others and then we are left feeling lonely on top of all the other feelings.

We all know that God loves us and forgives us, but aren’t you a little surprised that He forgives as much and as readily as He does?  I don’t know about you but someone who just ditched me in the middle of my crisis and not only that, but actually had the audacity to even deny knowing me,  that person would not be someone I would seek out after the crisis was over.  Would you? But let’s see what the resurrected Jesus does when we see Him with Peter again.

What do guys do when dealing with their emotions?  Go fishing of course!  So that is where we find Peter and luckily a few buddies went with him.  They are out there for a while not catching a thing! Doesn’t that just go with how Peter must have been feeling, like he was just empty handed, he had seen Jesus but they still hadn’t really cleared things up. I think Peter was probably feeling as empty as the boat that day.   He was ready to give up and then the guys see someone on the shore who calls to them.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”  “No,” they answered.   He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.   Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.  The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.  When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

I cannot express how much I love this story.  Peter sees Jesus and jumps in the water.  Peter is not waiting to row…he is going to swim to Christ. It is really important that we just come out and talk with God after our failures.  We need to approach Him knowing He loves us and will forgive us and we need to do it fast.  We shouldn’t just row slowly to the shore of forgiveness but jump out of the dang boat and swim to it!  And what does Peter find on that shore? Not accusations, not condemnation, but a shore lunch being made for him.  Would you do that for the friend who ditched you?  Make lunch for them? If someone did that for you, would you be able to eat it, or would guilt curve your appetite?

Peter eats and Peter isn’t empty handed anymore.  He raked in a large number of fish and he also raked in a boat load of Christ’s love!  How beautiful is the love of Christ.  He not only forgives but invites us to join Him again.  He invites us to be His friend again, His beloved and His disciple.  He fills our empty with more than plenty. He makes us feel clothed, safe, and redeemed.  He doesn’t make us prove our faith but He will ask if we really love Him.  He asked Peter three times; “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me? One for each time Peter denied Him.

That hurt Peter because he really did love Jesus.  He didn’t always have the faith to back it up but he did love Him.  He was weak sometimes but he also was gusty.  I think Jesus really loved Peter.  He saw that Peter had potential, even if no one else did.  He saw Peter having radical love with little faith to sustain it but in the long run love would be the greatest of all.

This wasn’t the first time Peter had jumped into the water to reach Jesus and honestly, I don’t think it was the last.  I am sure Peter never forgot this moment with Jesus.  He was forgiven and he really did love Jesus. Now, he was going to keep growing his faith in Him and then we see that Peter at Pentecost, but that will have to be another blog post.  =)

I don’t know about you but my love of Jesus preceded my faith in Jesus.  It has been love that has drove me to do this blog but sometimes I haven’t always had the faith to sustain it.  Sometimes I spend more time thinking that no one is reading it than having faith in God to draw people to it.  Sometimes I didn’t have the faith that He could speak through me or give me anything that was worth reading by anyone! It is love that drove me to Bible study and then to leading Bible study but when I got there, I found myself face to the floor not sure if I could sustain in faith to complete the job I was called to do.  I wasn’t always sure Christ would be there, but I still loved Him. I have stepped out of the boat many times only to have my faith falter.  I have also rowed into the shore of forgiveness and had that feeling of emptiness for a lot longer than God intended me to have it.  I have, thankfully, also learned to jump in and swim to that shore and let me tell you the honest truth, I take a swim every morning!  The beauty is, Jesus is there every morning with a meal.  Not candy but something that will sustain me.  Not something that I will have to lose later but something that would give me the energy to go on.  How beautiful is the love of Christ.

So what do we do with this now?  Well, here is a couple take a-ways I hope you get.

  1. When you are being sweet talked into sin, go to God before you go in and indulge in something you will regret later.
  2. If you find yourself Petering-out and suddenly snacking on sin, don’t try to hide from God, and don’t slowly row to Him.  Just take a leap out of the boat and swim to Him.
  3. When you get to Him, don’t be surprised to find a meal waiting for you.  One that will sustain you and help you grow. One that shows how much He loves and how much He forgives.
  4. Go ahead and eat the meal and receive the forgiveness and forgive yourself too.
  5. Let your love of Jesus drive you right out of the boat.  Even if you don’t have the faith to sustain you, Jesus will be there and He will forgive you for the lack of faith but I wonder how He can forgive for the lack of love?

I have realized as I am writing that I am referencing the other time Peter jumped out of the boat and some of you might not know the story.  But with already over 2000 words written, I hardly think I can make this blog post any longer…then it might become a book!  Anyway, I would love for you read that story for yourself…sort of your homework.  Do you love Jesus enough to put something else to the side to do that?  Hmmm…something to think about.

Today, jump out of the boat and go get that meal!  I even linked it for you! How easy is that!  Now swim!  Jesus is waiting with a boat load of love.

Peter gets out of the boat!

Jesus Christ is my biggest passion.  It is one of my greatest joys to share that passion with others through teaching, bible study, speaking and writing.  It is my hope that others will know the love of God in Christ Jesus.

I have worked as a nurse for 27 years and I believe I am still nursing people when I share Jesus.  I am, in a sense, pointing them to the Great Physician of their soul.  True healing comes from a healthy spirit. Spiritual health comes from God, His love and forgiveness, His grace, His presence, His Word and being active in a body of faith with other believers.

 I hope through this blog that my "nursing skills" will be expanded to reach out to a larger group of people.  It just might be the prescription they needed!

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Written By: Sue Oberg

Jesus Christ is my biggest passion.  It is one of my greatest joys to share that passion with others through teaching, bible study, speaking and writing.  It is my hope that others will know the love of God in Christ Jesus.

I have worked as a nurse for 27 years and I believe I am still nursing people when I share Jesus.  I am, in a sense, pointing them to the Great Physician of their soul.  True healing comes from a healthy spirit. Spiritual health comes from God, His love and forgiveness, His grace, His presence, His Word and being active in a body of faith with other believers.

I hope through this blog that my "nursing skills" will be expanded to reach out to a larger group of people.  It just might be the prescription they needed!