I’m sure the revelation to Peter that his conviction to Jesus was not nearly as strong as he boasted was hard. Ok, let’s face it, if it was us, we would have been swimming in an emotional stew. There is so much going on in this upper room. Jesus has been talking about death and going away and that the time is now. Peter, strong in conviction and strong in might, boldly asks the question, “Why can’t I follow you?” All he wants to do is be a follower of Jesus. All he has done for 3 years is follow and learn. He has repeatedly recognized by the power of the Holy Spirit who Jesus really is. He isn’t confused in the way of some of the others; He knows that Jesus is the Messiah that Son of the Living God. And, in his mind and every intention of his being he would be willing to lay down his life for Jesus.
But, then there is fear. Over and over again in the scriptures we are told to not be afraid. Fear is the blade that Satan attempts to use to cut our connectivity to God. It is not rational thought. It is not logic. It is not evidence or references. It is fear. When we are in the grasp of fear we grasp for things to hold onto. We run away. We lie. We do things we would normally not ever intend to do.
But that is where the next verse in John comes in. John 14:1, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God believe also in me.” The alternative to fear is faith. It isn’t fleeing. It isn’t faltering. It isn’t fighting (self-reliance). These sentences provide the two doors that we can pass through. We can let our hearts be troubled OR we can believe in God and believe in Jesus. Jesus calls us to take door #2.
But, what if you’ve already taken door number one? What if fear pulls you into sin? The wonderful word that Peter heard and that we are told as well, as believers, is the word: WHEN.
In Luke 22:31, the last sentence is the most important for Peter and for us. And WHEN you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. It is not IF you turn back. It is WHEN. It is always WHEN. Satan does not have the power to snatch us from the hand of our Lord. He is given the power, by God, to put us through trials. To exercise our faith. To give us all kinds of fears in our lives. But, WHEN we turn back, we have more than we have before. Through those experiences that we call fear and failure, our faith is strengthened. We have more to give to others. We are more connected with each other and with God.
We can always come back and go through Door #2!
Instead of being willing to lay down his life, Peter would deny that he knows Jesus 3 times that night (But Jesus has prayed for him and knows that he will turn back and strengthen himself and his brothers from the experience).
It is never up to me or my strength if I am in the will of God, Ps 118:6-7, “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.”