As we approach a rather unusual Easter Sunday, I keep thinking of my favorite early church leader, Peter. He possesses that feisty, fighting faith. He also screws up just as badly as all the rest of us normal humans. In honor of Passover today, let’s look at Jesus’ Passover prophecy of Peter’s Denial.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”Luke 22:31-34 NIV
Jesus warned of multiple betrayals at the Passover meal. He foretold that Judas would hand Him over to the chief priests. He explained to the confused disciples that the Kingdom of God was coming. Most surprisingly, He also prophesied Peter’s denial.
We think of Peter as the gutsy, often rash, unofficial leader of the disciples. He was that kid in school who had an answer for every question. Peter boldly brandishes his position, but he doesn’t realize that Passover will completely flip his life upside down.
The Passover celebration harkened back to the Israelites escape from Egypt. The Israelites painted their doors with the blood of lambs, and their sons were spared from God’s judgement. (See Exodus 12.) To commemorate God’s mighty act, the Jews sacrificed a Passover lamb (see Luke 22:7-8). God doesn’t slack when it comes to fulfilling prophecies, so the chief priests capture and procure the death of His Son Jesus on that very day.
Of course, Peter doesn’t see this big plan. He only knows that he is devoted to his friend Jesus. I think Peter truly believes he will defend Jesus to the death. After all, the Bible reports only Peter following Jesus to his trial. However, as Jesus said in His Passover Prophecy, fear overcomes Peter when the bystanders recognized him. Peter denies Jesus three times, then he flees in shame. (See Luke 22:54-62).
This week, let’s sit with Peter in recognition of our sinful behavior. Peter failed to live up to his own expectations of himself. It crushed him, just as it would crush any one of us. Unlike Peter, though, we know that Jesus rose from the dead three days later. We know that Jesus’ resurrection gives us victory over sin and death, so we don’t have to live in shame like Peter. Next week, when we have celebrated the gift of Easter, we’ll see how Peter’s life changed because of this miraculous Passover.