In the dark future we face, what happens if you deny Jesus? What if we are given a choice, deny our Lord or watch those we love die? Or are killed yourself? Do you comply? Or not?
We have written about this subject before, but I heard a Bible study this week, it got me thinking about these questions again. Remember the verses when Peter denies Jesus three times? (The full account is below if you are unfamiliar with them.) At Passover, Jesus and his disciples are having the Passover meal. Jesus tells Peter he will deny Jesus three times before morning. Peter refuses to believe, in fact, he rejects the words.
Peter does exactly what Jesus said he would. He denies Jesus three times. When Jesus arises from the dead, he seeks Peter to show his love and forgiveness. This is what I want to point out. Jesus will always forgive us when we go to him with a repentant heart…no matter what we have done. Now back to our verses.
First, Jesus said Satan was behind Peter’s temptation and he would pray for Peter, that his faith would not fail. Then he said ‘when you have returned to Me.’ Most likely, Satan whispered in the minds of those who asked Peter if he knew Jesus, to do so. Sure enough, Peter stumbled, but what was in his heart? The next verses tell us…he went off by himself and wept bitterly. I would venture to say, his sorrow crushed him, he loved Jesus and always would. So he asked for forgiveness.
Why is all of this important to us? Because when the horrible, dark times come, we too may be tempted to deny Jesus. If Peter can fail, so can we.
Consider: Someone has a gun pointed at your wife’s, husband’s or child’s head ready to kill them and all they require is you deny Jesus. Do you say the words that will release them or …?
In conversations with other Believers, the opinions run the gamut. Some say, deny Jesus and you’re lost forever. Others, just let them kill you and your family, you’ll go to heaven anyway, so there’s no reason to deny your Lord. The last group believes we can say what we need to because Jesus knows our heart and we must do what’s required to preserve our lives.
We must remember, Peter was forgiven and so can we. Where there’s life, there’s hope. But Satan is a formidable enemy. We cannot under-estimate his abilities and strategies. His goal is to steal, kill and destroy. He will do whatever it takes to pull us down to defeat, because when we’re down, we are easier to stomp on and we are a smaller threat. It’s important to work this out in our hearts before the evil arrives. The better prepared our hearts are, the less chance of failure and the firmer our faith.
Luke 22:31-34 (NKJV)
31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.
32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
33 But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”
34 Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”
Luke 22:54-62 (NKJV)
54 Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance.
55 Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.
56 And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.”
57 But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”
58 And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”
59 Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”
60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
John 21:15-22 (NKJV) (Note: this is after Jesus arose from the dead and is spending time with his disciples)
15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”
19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”
20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”
21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”
22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”