WOL Newsletter 172: I Wanna Rock, Not a Reed
January 10, 2016
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Edited by Stacie Thomas

I can’t express how much I loved this sermon! Maybe because I can soooooo relate to Peter—and not the ‘good’ Peter—the deny-my-best-friend, faltering-faith-and-trust, I-wanna-go-it-my-own-way Peter…
I also find it interesting that yes, even after all he went through, and Jesus made a point to single him out again, and chose him to be the ‘rock’, Peter still didn’t live up to his full potential… In John 21:15-17 Jesus asks Peter three times “Do you love me?” Why three times?
First, let’s dissect the thrice component. Peter denied knowing Jesus three times (Matthew 26:70-74, Luke 22:57-60, Mark 14: 68-71, John 18:25-27) and symbolically Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. One for each time Peter betrayed Him. In the thrice denial of Christ- Peter showed his complete selfishness; he was only concerned with his own safety, not defending Jesus.
The first two times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, He used the Greek word agape (self-sacrificial love). The third time He asked He used the Greek word phileo (affection, brotherly love). Each response Peter gave was with translation phileo. Basically Jesus asked him 1) Do you love me? 2) Do you really love me? 3) Are you even my friend? How profound! Jesus was pointing out that even though Peter claimed to love Jesus, he really only loved himself. We may say and truly believe that we love Jesus and are willing to do anything to prove it, but when we are pushed to that test- do we give it our all? AND on a broader scale- we don’t and can’t love Jesus the way that He loves us; the way that He deserves. Because He is Lord, He has more infinite power and love than we can comprehend. (John 3:31, 1 John 3:16)
No matter how many times you deny Jesus (put yourself first) He will remind you that He loves you- AND that He can and wants to use you. “Feed my sheep.” (Remember- our sins and failures are only a part of who we are here, they do not define who we are in Christ) (Romans 6:11, 2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus can use all of our failures for His good. (Romans 8:28)
Our failures and sins will not stop Jesus, our Lord and Savior from loving us; and they surely won’t keep Him from using us, regardless of our transgressions. Jesus predicted Peter’s betrayal (Matthew 26:34, Mark 14:30, Luke 22:34, John 13:38), and He knows of our betrayals before we do. He forgave Peter, just as He’s forgiven us. And He used Peter, just as He’ll use us. When Peter finally accepted Jesus for Who He was and is, he finally committed his life to Jesus, giving Him agape love.
I want to be like Peter—the good Peter—I want to finally understand Jesus’ Love, and go out and feed His sheep.

I Wanna Rock, Not a Reed

Peter is remembered most as being the impulsive disciple that denied Jesus three times on the night of His arrest and trials. He was just a blue-collar, rugged, harsh, outspoken, foul-mouthed, simpleminded, uneducated man who made a living with his hands (fishing). But when you look deep into the Gospels, Peter was probably the closest, most intimate disciple to Jesus during His earthly stay. (Matt 19:27) Peter left his entire business (as a family man) to follow Christ wholeheartedly. (Matt. 16:18) Peter was chosen by Jesus to be the foundation of the Church He was going to build. (Matt 8:14, Luke 4:38, Mark 2:1-12) With Peter, is where Jesus probably chose to live out a number of His days in ministry, there in Capernaum. Peter was always in the closest inner circle of friends, and events in Jesus' life. (Mark 14:37) When Jesus took Peter, James, and John with Him to pray on His last night in the garden and they all fell asleep, Jesus only awakened one disciple and questioned him in disappointment (Peter- He saw him differently every time) (Matt 14:29) Even though he failed, Peter was the only one to step out in faith and walk with Jesus on the water, ever so briefly. Peter spoke more in faith, did more in faith, and showed more raw passion for Jesus than any other disciple; he even showed more courage than the others in the end, drawing his sword to defend Jesus in the garden, and following (at a great distance with John) when Jesus was arrested and carried to the High Priest for trial. With all of his courage and faith, Peter was still told some amazing things by Jesus. While sitting at the Last Supper, Jesus tells the disciples that one of them will betray Him that very night (Luke 22:20-24). Shortly after this news, and possibly stemming from it, the disciples began an argument about which of them should be considered the greatest. Jesus corrects them by saying that the most qualified would be the most humble of them; and on the tail-end of this argument, Jesus turns to Peter (Luke 22:31-32) and tells him 1) that he was going to be tested (sifted) by Satan 2) that he would fail that testing 3) that he would be restored later. With all of Peter’s strengths and accomplishments, he had one great weakness that became apparent even in his response to Jesus’ prophecy (Luke 22:33) (‘Not me’). Matthew 19:27; Matthew 16:21-23: Peter was very confident in himself; in his ability to do more, give more, go further—as long as it was for his gain or his way of doing things. (Peter was smug enough to rebuke or correct himself. Peter had much potential for love and faith, but his confidence in his own abilities and plans over his reliance on God were holding him back from all God could really do in him and making everything he did of no use, because it was for his own gain and glory. Even when Peter drew his sword in the garden that night, it was to fight beside Jesus in his own plan of bringing the Kingdom in right then. When Peter saw that Jesus really was going to surrender and die, he saw that He really was doing it in a way that wasn't going to please or benefit him; he saw that it was suddenly going to cost too much, with too little glory, therefore he quickly lost heart and denied Jesus that night and he failed Satan's sifting.
Luke 22:31: Satan had to ask before God’s man could be put through trials. Luke 22:32: Jesus knew he would fail; but Jesus knew he would come back from the failure stronger than ever. (Your failures are not unexpected, not permanent, and surely do not make you less of a person or less usable to God. Your failures in a trial can be one of the most useful things that God has ever allowed in your life.) God allowed Peter to be pushed beyond his limit and fail (allowed him to sin terribly—was still Peter’s choice). Without this testing to the point of failure, Peter would never have become the man Jesus knew that he could be on the inside all along. Jesus already knew the heart of Peter, beyond his failures and weaknesses; He’d already told him that He was praying for him. (Jesus—even knowing you’re going to sin against Him, prays for you during your trials). John 1:41:42: the first time Jesus met Peter, He changed his name from Simon to Cephas (Peter): from reed/grass to rock. Everything God allowed Satan to bring against him from that point were allowed by Jesus as an act of love; to make him go from reed to rock. Take confidence and hope that in your greatest failure, God may not only be restoring you, but making you what He’s always known you could be. What we see as failures, God uses to make us better, closer, stronger, more usable, more trusting, more faithful. Peter failed worse than any of the disciples (other than Judas), yet he was the one Jesus used as a foundation for His Church. Your trials and failures could be your greatest event in your life, or they could be the worst mistake you ever made, ruining you and everything you worked for. There is one key that will make the difference. Luke 22:60-62: Jesus had to look at Peter in heartbreak and despair, yet in understanding love.
When Jesus first arose from the grave, after dying alone and rejected, to now show Himself as the Risen Savior, He had the Angel deliver His first message: Mark 16:4-7: He singled out one disciple by name (Peter) because He knew the pain and despair Peter was feeling for his betrayal; and it was that urgent on the heart of Jesus to send a personal message to Peter assuring him that he was still one of his disciples; he was still included in His love and plan. We must respond the way Peter responds to this kind of love, forgiveness, and undying affection: John 20:3-6: the one that should be least likely runs past everyone to have his chance to see his Savior again—no matter the consequences—because he needs his Savior and best friend—no matter the humiliation or pain—he had enough trust in Jesus to feel he will be accepted. John 21:4-8: he dropped everything in order to be the first one to Jesus. He wanted it to be clear how badly he wanted to be near; he wanted his love for his King to outshine everyone else. Jesus told Peter to do one thing if he was truly repentant; if he truly did love Jesus more than himself: Feed His sheep (love His people; fulfill His commands). Peter went on to preach the first, and one of the most important sermons, ever preached after the promise of the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost. This man who cowered in fear of death over Jesus before, preached this message to the very same people who killed his Savior (and could kill him): Acts 2:22-24: and 3000 were saved! Peter became a bold, compassionate, gentle, patient man; he no longer cared about self-promotion or prestige, but about God’s plan of loving others and saving the lost; a man with more power and humility; a man used to plant His Church for all ages; a man who according to tradition, would later have to face the horrific death his Savior faced years before (that he cowered from): John 21:18-19 (Jesus prophesied): and he requested to be crucified upside down because he was not worthy to even die as his Savior had died.
If you have failed, and are truly broken, truly hungry for God, He will use your failure to sift the bad away and make you into a new, powerful warrior for Him. But He can’t if you don’t stop limiting and questioning His Grace and Mercy. You have to be willing to humble yourself as Peter did; run to him, unashamed of what the world thinks; with no worries of what He thinks, and envelope Him in your love and appreciation. Then boldly show your new love all your days by giving your life in servitude as Peter did; not in necessity, but in passion; no matter the cost. A complete comeback is waiting; guilt and pain really can be done away with. Psalm 30:2-5: you can get out of your misery and move from being a reed in the wind to a rock for Christ!

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