“Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.” (John 13:36-38)
Ever gotten a spiritual “strawberry” on your chin? Ever charged out of church ready to conquer the forces of Hell, only to fall on your face midweek? Ever ridden a wave of enthusiasm right into a reef of your own foolishness? I sure have.
Good news for schleps like us: Jesus is supremely patient. Jesus knows that our enthusiasm often outstrips our maturity. have a look at Peter. Often ready to jump in with both feet, Peter is pushed back by his Teacher on many occasions. He even garnered to “Satan” gloss once (Matt 16:23). And yet, his hubris goes unchecked.
A few weeks back, I was having a great conversation with my wife about the anguish of unconquered sin. Our spirits really smart when we fall into transgression that we are familiar with. Repeated offense of the same kind really shines a light on our hearts. Beyond guilt, it brings feelings of shame, doubt, and grief. We are very familiar with the greatness of the price paid for us (Rom 5:6), and it tears us up to see that we’re squandering the great cost of the Savior’s blood.
Peter felt this too. Luke 22:61 tells us that upon Peter’s third denial of Jesus, that He made eye contact with Peter. I can’t imagine how great Peter’s sorrow must have been.
But again, this is meant to bring us some encouragement. In the context of Jesus’ grounding of Peter in John 13, let’s highlight a few heartening observations:
- Jesus checks Peter but doesn’t reject Him.
- Jesus want to be with Peter. Jesus goes on the explain in John 14 that He must go ahead of the disciples, to the Father, to prepare their way to the Father. In this, Jesus is making it possible to Peter to follow Him, just not yet. Jesus is only telling Peter that he isn’t yet ready, not that he can’t come.
- Jesus, by going to His Father, is going to trigger blessings that will overcome Peter’s weakness. Particularly Jesus tells us that His going is to drive them into prayer (14:13), make the capable of “greater works” (14:12), give them peace (14:27) and send the Holy Spirit (14:26).
- Jesus underlines the importance of the fact that, like all other believers, Peter will eventually succeed because of his spiritual union with Christ through the coming Holy Spirit (John 15).
You know, the mark of self-righteousness is eagerness to punish. When we sin, there are often many people ready to scorn us and put the “Matthew 18” screws to us. It’s a mistake to think that Jesus regards our sin in this way. Yes, it is absolutely true that God hates our sin, and Jesus shows this by sternly putting Peter in his place. Yet, Jesus ultimate goal is that we glorify God on earth as He did when HE was here, Himself (John 13:31-35). that His response to our sin is serious, and yet gentle, is proof of this.
Let us proceed with a greater love of Christ. Let us be strengthened by a disdain of our sin, and yet be unvanquished by its emergence. let us show mercy to fellow sinners, and yet call them to accountability. Let us confes our sin, and appeal to Christ for the power to overcome it.