John 21:18 – 19 (Jesus said to Peter,) “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
We all know of Peter’s shame. He promised Jesus to follow Him always, to never leave His side. Then, he broke that promise. He denied even knowing Christ. Not once. Not even twice. Three times, he denied Christ.
And he was ashamed.
But Jesus – oh bless Him! – He gave Peter another chance. Oh, it wasn’t going to be easy. Jesus told Peter right up front. He said, “You think it was hard to follow me before? Just wait. Because of Me, you will die a horrible death.”
I wonder if Peter’s failure didn’t help to prepare him for the road he would walk, later. After all, Peter knew what it was like to cave in to peer pressure. He was a strong man, but at least three times, he had been weak. Very weak.
And that weakness brought regret. Sadness.
Peter failed miserably on that night of Jesus’ death. He wouldn’t do it again.
Jesus’ words may have seemed like a warning. But to me, I see those words as a vote of confidence. “Peter, you will face some terrible things, but you’ll face them with strength. Next time, you won’t run.”
It makes me wonder about some of the failures in my own life. Oh, they are my own failures, the results of my own choices. But God, who works all things for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), can use those failures. If I let Him, He will take my shame and turn it into strength. Where I’ve failed, He’ll help me to flourish.
Peter went on to spend the remainder of his life doing exactly as Jesus had asked. He fed the sheep. He made disciples. He committed himself to preaching and teaching and writing letters and doing all he could to establish a firm foundation for us, the church.
Peter was crucified upside-down. The upside-down part was at his own request, because he didn’t feel worthy of dying the same way his Lord had died. Though he had every right to be afraid about his future, he didn’t fail.
Like Peter, we may be uncertain of the future. We may have reason to be afraid. But like Peter, we can go forward with confidence, knowing God is in control.
Dear Father, Thank You that Peter’s failure eventually made him strong. Please use my own failures to make me into the person You want me to be. Please help me to succeed in Your will.