There was once a miserable failure who turned into a smashing success. You may know some of this story, but every now and then it’s good to remember all of it.
Peter’s testimony wasn’t limited to a few bold proclamations made in Jesus’ presence, such as the one we discussed yesterday; he continued to testify later in his life. His later statements are made all the more remarkable because of what happened the night Jesus was betrayed, arrested and handed over to be tried.
Higher Highs, the Lowest of Lows
After making bold predictions of steadfast loyalty, Peter denied even knowing Jesus during Christ’s trial at Caiaphas’ house, and left there a broken man, as described in Matthew 26:75. The Bible says he was so ashamed of himself that he “wept bitterly.” (I guess betraying your best friend can make you do that…). I called Peter a “miserable failure” because I cannot imagine that he ever felt more worthless than he did after turning his back on his best friend…
Following this devastating personal failure, he was restored by the resurrection and encouragement of Jesus, recorded in John 21. If Jesus had not appeared to Peter after the resurrection, who knows where Peter’s story would have gone? In fact, if there had been no resurrection, Peter would have lived the rest of his life in remorse and failure… The broken, cowardly fisherman might not have ever appeared in public again, and he would have been remembered primarily as the disciple who let Jesus down.
Apparently, though, he took courage from Jesus during a visit after the resurrection by the Sea of Galilee, and took his place again as a leader among the disciples. So it was he who stood up in Jerusalem to deliver the first sermon at Pentecost, and said this about the man he had denied knowing: “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know… God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.” (Acts 2:22, 32, NIV)
Peter the failure became Peter the brave! Peter, who betrayed his best friend and wept bitterly, became Peter the powerful witness. The coward became the communicator! Peter the professional fisherman became Peter the prophet. He was not depending on his own merit to stand up and preach, he was depending on the facts about Jesus. While he lost confidence about himself, he gained confidence in Christ.
It’s Not Just Peter
Perhaps you have had some failure regarding being loyal to Jesus; the Lord knows I have. In point of fact, I’ve made all of my biggest mistakes in life as a Christian. Since I became a Christian at fourteen, I’ve had over fifty years of mistakes made as a follower of Jesus. Like Peter, I have made bold promises about my commitment and then failed, even to the point of weeping bitterly. Perhaps you have experienced that too…
But that doesn’t have to be the end of our story. Just like Peter, we can be reclaimed and restored. The amazing thing about giving testimony is that it doesn’t depend on our success or worthiness, or what we’ve accomplished. A testimony is just giving the facts. It depends on what Jesus did, and the confidence we can have in HIM. If there is ANY difference in your life because you know Jesus, then speak up! It’ll preach.
The Failure Who Succeeded
Peter failed like all the rest, confronted with his greatest test:
In spite of his pretentious boast, he failed the man he loved the most.
His courage slept, his faith was swept, his loyal promise was not kept,
And after he was so inept–a broken man– he went and wept!.
That should have been the final act, but this is a historical fact:
Peter’s life was somehow changed, and everything was rearranged!
The risen Lord said, “Do not weep. It’s time for you to feed my sheep.”
So Peter stood and boldly preached, and folks from everywhere were reached;
Though Peter’s life had been a mess, he was redeemed, and found success!
So if you ever fell apart, the Lord can help you make a start:
He has a plan for every heart where even failures play a part!
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