Have you ever failed God in some way?
More than once?
Ever felt that you’re just not cut out for “this discipleship thing” because you keep getting things wrong?
Today I’d like to encourage you by looking at some of the things that the apostle Peter got wrong. He was an absolute hero of the early church – yet his walk with Jesus was a real roller coaster of ups and downs!
The first one is found in Luke 5. Things began well. Peter met Jesus, recognised him as a man of God and lent him his boat to preach from – a kind of lake-side pulpit. It was a great time!
Then Jesus told him to push back out into the deeper water and throw his nets out for a “thank you” catch of fish. Peter was fed up from a night without fish, but he did so anyway. The result was such a catch of fish that the nets were ready to break! How cool was that!
But Peter was not thrilled – he was terrified! His response was absolute fear! He said to Jesus: “Go away from me Lord! I’m a sinful man!” Peter was an experienced fisherman. He had fished all night. He knew there were no fish in the water! So when he saw the bursting nets, he knew that this was God at work! This terrified him! He was a rough and tough fisherman – not the kind of man who would dare to enter the presence of God! Jesus gently corrected his view: Don’t be afraid! From now on you will fish for men!
What a first day! From a pleasant association helping Jesus, to wanting to run a mile, Peter ended the day becoming a follower of Jesus!
In Matthew 14, we read another famous story. The disciples had been with Jesus all day, but he sent them ahead of him across a lake in a boat. The weather had turned nasty and it was genuinely a “dark and stormy night!” Suddenly they saw Jesus walking towards them – on the water!
This time, while the rest were terrified, Peter had a brave moment – he called out to Jesus: “Call me out to walk on the water with you!” What a hero of faith! He got out the boat and walked on the water! Awesome! Go Peter!!
But then he had a crisis! His fisherman knowledge kicked in! What was he thinking?! You can’t walk on water! And he immediately sank into the water! Suddenly our heroic man of faith was crying out in terror: “Lord, save me!”
Jesus rescued him and he sat safely, albeit soaking wet, in the boat. He probably felt totally humiliated! He’d stepped up to be a man of faith, but his humanity had tripped him up. “You have a little faith, Peter!” What a put-down! I wonder if Peter thought of returning to the fishing trade that night!!
Luke 9 and Matthew 16 both record a profound moment of revelation for Peter. Jesus had asked the disciples who they thought he was, and Peter got the right answer: “You are the Messiah!” Jesus affirmed him: “You are blessed Peter! God has shown you this!” Ha! The man was back! Peter was hearing God! He was the guy who recognised the Messiah! What a glorious moment!
Then Jesus began telling them about his coming crucifixion. Peter was appalled. No way can that be allowed to happen! This must be stopped!! “No Lord! This must not be allowed!” As he voiced his violent objection, Jesus silenced him with the most scathing rebuke: “Get behind me Satan! Your thinking is of man not of God!”
OUCH! The man who had just heard from God about the Messiah – 100% right – was now 100% wrong – and being called “Satan”! How the mighty had fallen!!
But Peter regained his confidence and continued. Luke 22 records a conversation before the crucifixion. Peter had sort-of got his head around this, and had decided that was going to be with his Lord all the way – what ever the cost. Then Jesus said they would all desert him when he was arrested. Peter spoke out: No way! Lord, I will die for you!
Hours later, that same man had denied knowing Jesus. Not once – but three times! I don’t know him!
Peter was a disciple and an apostle of Jesus. He physically walked with Jesus the man and he went on to serve the risen Lord Jesus as a powerful apostle. Yet his walk was a roller coaster of ups and downs. Even as an apostle, we read that Peter succumbed to peer pressure from Jewish leaders who still had issues with meeting with non-Jews and was rebuked by Paul!
He failed many times – but he got up again. He probably thought he was “done” after he denied Jesus, but he wasn’t – he went on to do great things for Jesus!
I don’t know how many times you have failed. But I do know this; Peter failed dismally many times! Take heart! Jesus continued to use him! He will continue to use you! So may I say something I hope you’ll remember – and tell others?
FAILURE ISN’T FINAL!
You may feel like you’re “done”. Painful memories of failure may tell you that. But Jesus is not telling you that! He’s urging you to carry on!
Philippians 1:3-6 NIV:
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”