This coming Sunday, we’ll be looking at Peter’s denials of Jesus, specifically as outlined in John 18. It’s a record of extreme failure. I’ve found myself with a lot of energy as I’ve realized Peter was trying to do the right thing. He wasn’t just an idiot. I used to think that. I mean, come on, Jesus warned you about denying him, how hard was it to just say, “Yes, I do know Jesus, what’s it to you?”

No, Peter’s failure came because he was, as my friend Sarah Baldwin said a few weeks ago in worship, “so wonderfully passionate and heroic.” Peter really did get what Jesus said in chapter 13. He was ready to die, heroically and bravely, with Jesus. He drew his sword, ready to stand with Jesus and die like a good ol’ western hero, outnumbered and against impossible odds.

But Jesus told him to put away his sword. Jesus told him that even though he was trying to get it right, he had gotten it all wrong.

That must have been incredibly frustrating and confusing to Peter. His failure came in TWO ways…trying to heroically make a last stand when Jesus was ready to surrender and die, and then the failure of being afraid and not acknowledging Jesus. This, at least, is how I’ve been thinking about it this week.

How about you? What does the Spirit speak to you about John 18 and Peter’s failure? When have you tried to do the right thing, and heard the Spirit’s voice saying, “You’ve missed it entirely. Put the sword away”? I’d appreciate your comments.

2 thoughts on “Failure

  1. Peter is flat out my favorite biblical Character. Peter would so totally ride a motorcycle! anybody who doesn’t see it that way can meet my sword!

    But seriously (joking about the sword!)
    The fact that we have this account is amazing – for the early church – including Peter to preserve their worst moments is proof of truthfullness to my thinking.

    I think the denial was all about the sword rebuke.
    “I don’t know THIS man”

    The man I know can cut people to ribbons with his words this man is saying NOTHING!

    The man I know can walk on water, dissapear at will, change the molecular substance of water, multiply matter – this man allowing himself to be chanied – Him, I DON”T KNOW!

    The man I know was standing on a mountain with MOSES. Submitting to Rome? – I DON”T KNOW THIS GUY.

    I KNOW the ‘kingdom come’ guy, the transfigured water walking guy, the guy who tells the wind what to do guy.

    That guy I liked, that guy I loved, that guy I was gonna die for.

    Who is THIS GUY – who is going to leave me here to be a coward?

    Peter wasn’t lying when he said he didn’t know him
    Of all the things he was – he was NEVER a liar
    He didn’t know that man.
    Didn’t really get to know him until a fish breakfast a few days later
    Was still getting to know him at the house of cornelius (ACT 10)
    Finally knew him when Peter submitted to his own cross deacades later.


  2. I have also been focusing on Peter’s denial this week. I agree he was confused by the extremes he had experienced in his short journey with Jesus. We have all faced circumstances that have caused us to take the low road of denial in various forms. The focus this week has brought me to a deeper appreciation of Lamentations 3:22 and 23:

    …GOD’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
    They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! (The Message)

    Most likely none of us has faced the extremes Peter faced, but we have all failed and fallen short. The good news is that we also are the recipients of the same grace that Peter received even though he had a better excuse. Are we the ones that really get the mercy poured out?

    Dave Woolsey


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