From Declaration to Denial: The Two Sides of Simon Peter
Simon Peter had a dark side. In one moment he confessed that Jesus was the Christ by revelation from God and within moments of that Jesus had to rebuke him for being manipulated by the devil to speak words against Jesus dying on the cross. While he was the first one out of boat when seeing Jesus walk on the water, he soon got his eyes off Christ and began to sink.
Satan was watching Peter during these episodes plotting a way to take him out. Jesus affirmed this in Luke 22:31 when He said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.” Years later Peter would write about Satan, “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8).”
We will look at these verses again in moment…
But for now…
What can we learn from Peter’s fall? In Matthew 26 we see FIVE STEPS from Peter’s Declaration to his Denial.
STEP ONE: V-35 Overestimating Our Own Spiritual Strength.
Bad things happen when we start believing we are stronger than we really are. Especially when we do it like Peter did. He compared himself to the other disciples and felt superior, declaring to Jesus that even if they all would forsake Him, he would never leave.
STEP TWO: V-40 Lack of Spiritual Discipline
When Jesus asked him to pray, he slept. As lack of spiritual discipline can keep us sleeping when we should be praying, reading the Bible and going to church. We should also be disciplined enough to fast regularly and give generously. Discipline, alone, won’t make you spiritual but you will never be spiritual without it!
STEP THREE: V-51 Allowing Disappointment and Discouragement to Set In
When Jesus was being arrested, Peter fought back. What did it get him? Another rebuke from Jesus! Strange when you consider in Luke 22:28 Jesus asked how many swords they had brought. The answer was two. Who had the other sword? What coward refused to join Peter in the fight? All of this must have set in on Peter pretty heavy and made him feel disillusioned and discouraged as the soldiers took Jesus away in the night.
STEP FOUR: V-58a Disconnecting from the People of God
This verse simply says that Peter followed from a distance. Instead of standing close to Christ and His people, he was disconnect, following from afar. No doubt his distance was born from the discouragement and disappointment he experienced earlier.
STEP FIVE: V-58b Associating Too Closely with the World
Peter sat down in the midst of unbelievers sharing their fire, conversation and perspectives. While this is not a bad thing in itself – Jesus did this very thing often – Peter was in no spiritual condition to do so. Neither was his motive the same as our Savior who was seeking out the sick with the compassion and wisdom of a physician in order to heal them. Peter was looking for comfort in the wrong place.
Back to Luke 22:31. Jesus also adding these words in the next verse, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren (V-32).”
Back to I Peter 5:8. Peter added these words of encouragement to us. “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world (V-9).”
Finally, Peter encourages us with these words – perhaps even looking back on that dreadful choice he made the night Jesus was crucified – in II Peter 1:10, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.”
We are not ignorant of the devil’s devices according to II Corinthians 2:11. So beware reader! If you find yourself anywhere in those FIVE STEPS, repent, turn around and run back to God with your whole heart.