Another Chance for Commitment

MEMORY SELECTION: “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” —John 21:17

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: John 13:36-38; 18:17, 25-27; 21:15-19

THE Apostle Peter was one of the first of Jesus’ disciples. Apparently Jesus was able to discern that hidden under Peter’s impetuous nature was a solid rocklike character, for he named him Cephas (Peter), which means “a rock.” This quality was displayed often after Jesus’ death and resurrection. He was a strengthening influence to the Lord’s sheep.

The Gospel accounts record more of Peter’s statements than of any of the other eleven. He was a forthright and dynamic character, not reserved or hesitant. This doubtless caused him to speak up first and to express himself when others remained silent. He raised questions that Jesus clarified and amplified by many illustrations. At times he spoke impulsively, even impetuously, but Jesus recognized that these things represented human weaknesses and that underneath was a heart and character that would indeed develop into one of the Lord’s jewels.

When we take note of Peter’s weaknesses at this time in his life, we must realize that he had not yet been begotten of the Holy Spirit. He did not at this time fully understand why Jesus came to earth or why it was necessary for him to suffer or that there were to be two phases of the kingdom. This lack of understanding led him to remonstrate with Jesus because he indicated that he must go to Jerusalem, where he would suffer and die. The account is recorded in Matthew 16:21-23: “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

Jesus was not really calling Peter Satan, but he realized that Peter was unwittingly being used by Satan to appeal to the flesh to avoid the certain ordeal of suffering and death that awaited him in Jerusalem. His words were directed to Satan and not to Peter.

Peter’s denial of the Lord on the eve of his crucifixion was another instance where the weakness of the flesh dominated and overcame the noble and loyal heart that was within him. The circumstances were desperate for Peter. The Master that he loved was soon to be put to death, and all the wonderful hopes about the kingdom and his privileges in that kingdom were being dashed. And, of course, he felt a great personal danger in being identified with Jesus.

After Peter’s denial of Jesus, he “remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.” (Matt. 26:75) Peter suddenly realized the enormity of his failure. But Jesus realized that this incident did not represent Peter’s real heart condition. He was concerned and anxious that Peter know he had been forgiven. After the resurrection of Jesus, the angel who greeted the women who came to the tomb to anoint him remembered Peter especially, saying, “But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee.”—Mark 16:7

Industrious and impulsive Peter, not understanding the meaning of the events that had transpired and being disillusioned and disappointed, decided to go fishing, and several of the disciples went with him. When Jesus appeared to them on the shore, he was recognized by Peter, who immediately jumped into the sea and swam as fast as he could to Jesus. After a meal, Jesus asked Peter a question, “Lovest thou me more than these?” And Peter answered, “Yea, Lord.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” The third time that Jesus asked the question Peter was grieved and answered, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” Jesus said again, “Feed my sheep.” These three questions concerning Peter’s love for the Lord must have been an object lesson to him when he called to remembrance that terrible night when he had denied the Lord three times.

Many years later Peter recalled these bitter experiences but greatly rejoiced in the new hope that was revealed to him through the gift of the Holy Spirit.—I Pet. 1:3,4

Dawn Bible Students Association
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