“Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance.” Luke 22:54
Most of us know the narrative.
It’s a cold night, and Jesus has just been betrayed by Judas. In an effort to do what is right, Peter follows Jesus as He is being taken away and interrogated. And there, around the comfort of a fire, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times.
The rooster crows. The guilt comes. And Peter runs away weeping bitterly.
Although none of us have been in this exact situation, I feel many of us can identify with Peter. We’re trekking with Jesus daily, maybe even involved in ministry, and seemingly from nowhere, we fail. Maybe we fail miserably. Our instinct is to run and hide. But Jesus teaches us a better a way.
I want to cover two areas of failure that I think we can learn from this story.
1. Why do we fall?
The scriptures say, “but Peter was following at a distance.” I believe that if Peter had been in the same room as Jesus, he wouldn’t have denied Him. And if Jesus would have been sitting around the fire with Peter, he wouldn’t have denied Him.
When you follow Jesus from a distance, you position yourself to fail.
A major key to holiness is living with an awareness that Jesus is with you at all times. And your proximity to following Jesus will directly affect your ability to stand strong in the midst of temptation.
That’s why I love the promise that Jesus gives the disciples at the last supper, “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” John 16:7.
It’s to our advantage to live with the Holy Spirit in us rather than the physical Jesus beside us. There’s never a separation, and the power to walk in righteousness is always there.
2. How do we get back up?
Rather than learning from Peter’s experience, let’s look to Jesus for this one. Jesus prophesied that all would desert Him then immediately says, “But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” This is when Peter speaks up about never denying Him — we all know the story.
Let’s fast forward to the fall, Luke 22:61, “The Lord turned and looked at Peter…” This is when Peter runs away weeping. It would be easy to confuse this look with a, “I told you so” but this look was no doubt one that was full of grace and mercy. The actual character of Jesus.
Once Jesus is resurrected he says to Mary, “tell the disciples and Peter, I’ve gone ahead of them to Galilee.” Jesus will always look at you with eyes of love and tell you in the midst of your failures, “I’ve gone ahead of you.”
- You messed up big time — Jesus has gone ahead of you.
- You fell miserably — Jesus has gone ahead of you.
- You broke your promise to Him — Jesus has gone ahead of you.
So what happens when they meet up at Galilee?
Peter recognizes Jesus on the shore and immediately jumps into the water, clothes and all. He’s no longer satisfied with following at a distance. Once on shore, he has breakfast with Jesus around a new campfire.
And everything is alright.
I want to encourage you. If you’ve failed miserably, Jesus knew and has already gone ahead of you. Close the distance gap and choose to follow him closely.
He’s waiting to see you again, with breakfast.