PETER’S REPENTANCE IN BIBLE – When we look at his character, so full of failures, and at what Christ made him by the power of the Holy Ghost, there is hope for every one of us. But remember, before Christ could fill Peter with the Holy Spirit and make a new man of him,
“And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62).
That was the turning-point in the history of Peter. Christ had said to him: “Thou canst not follow me now.” Peter was not in a fit state to follow Christ, because he had not been brought to an end of him-self; he did not know himself, and he therefore could not follow Christ. But when he went out and wept bitterly, then came the great change.
Christ previously said to him: `When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Here is the point where Peter was con-verted from self to Christ. I thank God for the story of Peter. I do not know a man in the Bible who gives us greater comfort.
When we look at his character, so full of failures, and at what Christ made him by the power of the Holy Ghost, there is hope for every one of us. But remember, before Christ could fill Peter with the Holy Spirit and make a new man of him, he had to go out and weep bitterly; he had to be humbled. If we want to understand this, I think there are four points that we must look at.
First, let us look at Peter the devoted disciple of Jesus; next, at Peter as he lived the life of self; then at Peter in his repentance; and last, at what Christ made of Peter by the Holy Spirit,
When our natural ability fails us, we are weakened, but this can be turned around when we look to Him for His strength. Peter had no doubt that he had blown it. The Lord looked at him not to condemn him but to bring realization and truth to dawn on him, much like the angel who asked Jacob what his name was; “in shock of realization” he knew his own character. Peter was confronted with himself.
He saw his weaknesses and failures. He saw his real image in the mirror of life, though he thought it was a far cry from how he lived. He was desperate for change. Peter was certainly a work in progress. Jesus sought Peter after the Resurrection.
When the Lord rose from the dead, He sent a special message to Peter through the women who came to the grave.
The message to Peter after the Resurrection was to reassure him that he was loved and was not alone. Jesus gave the disciples breakfast after the Resurrection, but had a conversation with Peter to help him. Three times He asked Peter if he loved Hintl° In the first two questions. Jesus uses the strong verb agapan, while Peter replied with the weaker philein. In the third question Jesus uses Peter’s word, philein.
Peter’s past failure where he had denied the Lord three times was fresh in his mind. He knew God was calling him to an unconditional love, the love that was ready to lay down his life for the other, just as Jesus did for the world. Peter, after his experience with denying the Lord, did not use the word for unconditional love to answer the Lord. He was honest, because his love—which he thought was unconditional—had failed him. He had betrayed his Friend and Master.
This realization is the beginning of the journey of grace. When we realize that nothing good dwells in our flesh, and that our best effort is not good enough without God’s help, we qualify for grace.
Jesus was compassionate toward Peter and had faith in him. Although Peter may not have felt that he had unqualified love, Christ looked beyond the now and told him prophetically that he would one day lay down his life and walk in unconditional love. History records that when martyrdom came knocking, Peter preferred to be crucified upside down; he did not think he was worthy to be crucified like his Master. What a transformation! Still, Peter’s change was progressive.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter demonstrated boldness. He spoke up, risking arrest, and three thousand were saved. When they were arrested after the healing of the blind man at the beautiful gate and were warned not to preach again in the name of Jesus, Peter spoke up and asked whether it was better to obey God rather than man.
When Herod arrested Peter and was ready to execute him, the night before the execution Peter slept soundly and had to be awakened by an angel. The old, unbroken Peter would probably have negotiated a deal with the establishment or planned on a jail break.
But he was unperturbed. He had died to his own ways and his own agenda. Peter was living for the Lord. He understood that he was bought with a price, and could only live for the Lord. The old Peter had learned how to die in order for the glory of God to be seen. It had been a process in Peter’s life.”
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