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Peter -- Tested and Penitent

(Luke 22:31-34,54-62; John 21:17)

Lesson 9 -- first quarter 2003
January 26, 2003

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2002, Christian Light Publications

Strong commitment; flimsy strength

Peter entertained no doubts. He was absolutely sure of himself. He knew where he stood, and he knew where he would stand. He had no second thoughts about the sincerity, depth, and strength of his commitment. His mind was made up: He would stand by Jesus anywhere and no matter what. His unwavering commitment was to be unflinchingly loyal to his Master.

Even so, he failed.

I believe Peter's commitment "to go with thee, both into prison, and to death" was unconditional. I do not think Peter made that statement lightly. I am certain Peter's commitment was not in question. However, his strength was in question.

Trusting in his own flimsy strength, he aimed to honor his strong commitment.

So he failed.

How about you? How strong is your commitment? How strong is your strength? If you propose to use your own strength to live out your commitment to Jesus, don't! You cannot follow Jesus in your own power. Neither can I or anyone else.

Living Christ's life requires Christ's power. In 2 Corinthians 3:5 we have this simple truth: "Our sufficiency is of God." He alone can work in us "both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). If we learn to surrender to His will and power, if we make Him our sole sufficiency, He will surely "make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight" (Hebrews 13:21)!

Perhaps you wonder how this works in real life. I mean, when the temptation comes along to be unkind or intemperate, how do I respond with His strength instead of mine? Choose and pray. Choose the response you know to be godly, then ask God to empower you to respond that way. My friend, we must learn to lean and really rely on God all the time! Only then can we live in His strength.

On whose side are you?

Peter sided with Jesus. He committed himself to go with the Lord wherever He went. One result of this choice was the Lord "watching out" for him. Jesus knew what Peter needed and would need, and so He assured him, "I have prayed for thee" (Luke 22:32). Jesus still watches out for those who side with Him: "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1). Do you get that?! Choosing His side puts us on the same side with Him! I know, it's awfully obvious. But it's also marvelously grand! Jesus Christ Himself prays for my success and moves to enable me for success. But if I, through my own wrong and frail choices, still end up in defeat, He becomes my advocate. Imagine!

Another result of choosing to side with Jesus is that I also side with anyone and everyone else who sides with Him. Being on the same side with them gives me a great responsibility to them. That responsibility is to contribute to their spiritual strength. That's the other important concept in Luke 22:32. Listen: "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." After I have been restored from my own defeat, Jesus wants to use me and my experience to become a source of strength to my fellow believers.

Let's note one more result of choosing sides with Jesus: I must carefully guard the company I keep. Since I have purposed to side with Jesus, I cannot afford to "hang around" those who have chosen to side against Him. Peter saw some of Jesus' opponents sitting together around a fire so he went and "sat down among them" (Luke 22:55). He soon learned that environment would assault his commitment to Jesus!

Have you chosen to side with Jesus? Then remember these three results!

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