Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” Mark 14:29
Have you ever hit a bad spot in your Christian walk? You didn’t see the black ice of adverse circumstances or temptation’s power? Your feet slipped out from under you. You fell hard.
That’s where we find Peter at this moment in his life. It had not been a good week for him, that last week before Jesus’ crucifixion. In the short space of forty-eight hours, he failed eight times. Remarkable!
On the Tuesday night of Jesus’ last week, the disciples protested indignantly about the woman who poured an alabaster jar of expensive perfume on Jesus (Matthew 16:8). Since the word “disciples” is used without qualification, we can infer that the protest involved all of them—including Peter.
His second misstep was on Thursday evening as Jesus prepared to eat the Last Supper with the disciples. Jesus began by washing their feet. Peter vehemently protested that the Lord would never wash his feet. Peter’s protest came as he realized that neither he nor any of the disciples had done the courtesy of offering to wash the Lord’s feet.
As the lead disciple who had heard Jesus teach on more than one occasion that the greatest must be servant of all, Peter had failed to actualize the Lord’s teaching. (How many times do we know what the Lord wants us to do, but we also fail to do it?) The Lord provided a gentle retort that if He didn’t wash Peter’s feet, then Peter had no part with Him. Peter then went overboard with an opposite reaction and told the Lord to wash his hands and head as well (John 13:8–9).
Peter’s third failure came the same evening. Peter demonstrated that he was unsure of his own commitment to Jesus; he asked, along with the other disciples, if he was the one who would betray Jesus (14:19). Peter instinctively knew that a dormant potential lay within him to turn against Jesus.
But Peter plucked up his resolve a few hours later. After leaving the upper room and walking through the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives, Peter switched 180 degrees. At the Last Supper he had asked, “Is it I?” Now he was adamant he would never fall away—his fourth bungle.
Peter was ricocheting emotionally like a pinball. Even more erratic acts were to follow.
Number five, he fell asleep three times when Jesus wanted company to pray with Him in Gethsemane (14:37).
Number six, he took out his sword in violation of Jesus’ orders to be nonviolent. Instead, Peter cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant (John 18:10). Jesus corrected Peter’s failure by reattaching the ear—a nonverbal rebuke to Peter.
Number seven, Peter deserted, along with all the other disciples, when Jesus was arrested (14:46). Despite his earlier braggadocio, he fled when the heat was on. His earlier good intentions melted like snow on a hot summer day.
Finally, and most grievously, Peter disowned Jesus altogether—three times (John 14:66–72).
The Bible doesn’t cover up Peter’s failures, and that gives us hope; because despite Peter’s failures, the Lord loved him.
Would that there would never be a failure in your life, that you would never be weak or vulnerable! That you would never give in to temptation or pressure! But sometimes, like Peter, we fall down hard. No failure need be permanent. The good news is that Jesus also extends grace to us, even as He did to Peter!
A Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your never-failing love.
Excerpted from Dr. Wood’s forthcoming book, Fearless: How Jesus Changes Everything, available in September from Vital Resources.