Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
We like strong people. We like people that are certain about themselves. Their abilities. Their convictions. That’s why they’re called leaders, because people follow where they go. They lead, we follow.
Peter is a natural leader. He’s loud. He’s aggressive, even arrogant. He’s a man made for the 21st century. I can see him not only posting on social media, but I can see his fingers fly across his keyboard as he loudly replies to anyone and everyone who dares to question or contradict him or his opinions.
He says that Jesus has it all wrong. Peter’s not like all the others. Everyone else on the planet is weaker, not as determined, not as strong as he is. They will all fall away, but not Peter. Not the rock. I wonder if he used his hands when he said this. Raising his arms. Pointing his finger. Did he move closer? Did he get in Jesus’ face?
And with that certain, condemning tone in his voice, he put them all down while raising himself up. They will certainly all fail, but I will not. They are going to stumble, but I will not. They are going to be trapped, but I will not.
Jesus’ reply went right to the point, right to the center of Peter’s arrogance. He doesn’t deny that the others will run away. But the prophecy of Jesus is harsher and more condemning.
Peter, you’re not just going to deny me. You’re going to deny me again, and again, and again. You’ll have three tries to admit that you’re with me. You’ll have three bites at the apple. And for all three times, you’ll fold like a cheap suit. You’ll deny even knowing me.
You’ll have three swings at the plate, Peter. And you’ll quickly strike out on three, fat, fast balls right down the middle of the plate. You’ll have three tries to hit the ball, but it will be three and out for you.
Peter is incensed that Jesus wouldn’t believe him. I wonder if the fact that this took place in front of the disciples also fueled his vehement reply. Over and over, again and again, Peter says that Jesus is wrong. Peter says that he’s strong enough, he doesn’t need any help. He’s got the power. The determination. The courage to stand for the right without any help from anyone else.
Does this sound at all familiar? Don’t we say the same thing to God?
Now God, I’ve got this covered. You’ve trained me, and I’ve been walking with you for a while. I’ve experienced a lot with you, so don’t worry about me. Thanks for your kind offer, but you’d be better off helping someone else who’s not as strong. Not as mature. Not as solid in their faith as I am.
Not to be outdone, now everyone joins in. Not to be outdone, they join in with Peter. With great emotion and volume, they yell their loyalty to Jesus to the rooftops. They shout that they’ll never abandon Jesus. Over and over they repeat their words. They’ll never deny Jesus.
But, in the words of my dad, “Talk is cheap. Speak to me with your actions.”
We eagerly hop on just about any bandwagon. We get all excited. Yes, I’ll volunteer. Yes, I’ll serve. Yes, I’ll give. Yes, I’ll follow up. Yes, I’ll be there. Yes, I’m committed.
And then reality raises its ugly head. We start to shuffle our feet. We start to pull on our fingers. We stop looking at people. We bow our heads and stare at the floor. Anything to avoid eye contact.
We yell, “Yes, Lord” with a loud voice and lots of emotion on Sunday. But by Monday afternoon, Tuesday morning, it all slipped away. The emotion, the energy, the feeling, the passion has faded. All that’s left is the shadow of what happened on that mountaintop experience.
Yes, God is interested in our feeling, but he’s much more interested in our choices. Oour decisions. Our actions.
You have to remember, there is no fruit from feelings. Fruit comes from choices. Actions. Decisions. God is very interested in the fruits from our lives. And there’s no fruit from good feelings or good intentions. Good fruit and good results come from good choices.
Jesus is telling Peter that the next harvest will be a bad. There will be no fruit in his immediate future. But don’t stop there Peter, go on to the next season. The next harvest.
The same may be true for us. For you. You may have experienced a terrible harvest recently. Nothing but rotten fruit. But don’t stop there. Look to God for forgiveness, insight, and power to change and act for him. Wait patiently for that next season.
And then, when that next season comes, that next time comes up: pray. But be ready to do more than pray. Serve. Watch. Wait. There may be fruit galore in your future.