Doubt Stings

It’s Holy Week and I can’t get Peter out of my mind.   A man whom Jesus, just week’s previous to Passover, called His rock.  A bulwark, a cornerstone on which He would build His church.  A man who so adamantly and in faith recognized Jesus for who He was, the Son of Man, the Messiah.  A man who, because of His faith, Jesus blessed with a legacy, a promise that not even the powers of hell could destroy.

And Peter, he has occupied my thoughts these past few days.  And I find myself angry with him, this man that walked the earth so long ago.  This man who shared the same dusty roads as the Saviour, who broke bread and had his feet washed by Jesus. He had the pleasure of His warm embrace, His kind words whispered , in the flesh.   How could this man with the rock solid faith, one of Jesus’ closest companions, a brother and a friend, let doubt drip bitter as denial formed on his lips three separate times?

I wonder what those hours were like for Peter.  The hours he stood outside the temple and awaited the fate of Jesus.   Did he feel the weight of guilt press heavy on his conscience?  Did he doubt these words  Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’)…”?(Matthew 16:18)

 And as that denial left his mouth, his inability to tame his tongue or his doubt, did he feel smaller than the grains of sand that pressed against the soles of his sandals?

I have known this doubt.  This fear, that Peter felt, and I have denied my Saviour.  My denial may not have been in my words.  My lips have never uttered – I do not know Him – but my actions have sliced deep, of this I can be sure.   The many times that I have, in my fear and doubt, turned my back on my Saviour, my faith and belief feeling more like a burden than a joy.  And, I realized that my anger at Peter is really anger turned inward.  Because denial and doubt have long been the fruit from which I eat and with them the companions of fear and failure – a bounty of atheism designed to silence and suppress faith.

How is it that my heart can so easily fill with disbelief?  How is it that my soul can so easily be sold to the lies of doubt?  And I wrestle with these questions today in Jacob-like fashion, the legs of assurance limping from disjointed  faith. 

Peter’s story does not end with the denial of Christ.  Thankfully his story ends in grace.

I was reminded of this when I read John 21 today.

It was evening.  The Fishers of Men returned to their boats on the Sea of Galilee.  I wonder if they were still trying to work through the events of the past weeks?  I wonder if, when they replayed those scenes, the final moments, the empty tomb, the risen Lord,  over in their heads  they pinched themselves, just to be sure that it was true and that they hadn’t entered some alternate reality?  I wonder if the return to the boat was some grasp at a semblance of normalcy – a familiar routine after the careening craziness of Passover.  

And, Peter.  I wonder what was going through his mind while he moved through the ordinary task of casting his nets.  Did he have doubts about a Saviour’s love ?  Did he wonder whether the Son of Man, the Messiah would forgive his wavering faith?  Would Jesus take back his new name and the legacy He bestowed? He had seen with his own eyes, His bloodied Saviour die a horrible death.  Did he put it together that it was his own sin that pressed open wounds onto the crossbeams of grace?

And I can see Jesus there on the shore, watching His beloved disciples going through the motions of fishing to no avail.  He makes himself known with a greeting from shore and a question of success.  And he tells them “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get plenty of fish!” (John 21:6)  Awareness finally lights their eyes – it’s not the first time Jesus has filled their boats with fish!  And before you know it , before the bow of the boat is pointed to shore, Peter is over the side making his way, splashing through water, to His waiting Saviour. 

And while this scene is touching it what’s next that has me breathing relief.

            After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
            “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
            “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
                   Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
            “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
            “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
                    A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
            Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you     know everything. You know that I love you.” (John 21:15-17)

Three questions of love, three chances to cover the thrice spoken denial with grace.

And this truth it covers.  It reminds me that I am covered by grace.  That not only does my Saviour wait for me, He arduously pursues me.  I was not there the day He died.  I was not there the day He put my sin behind His back and submitted to the will of the Father.  But my sin was there.   I will never truly know the cost, never truly understand the depth of His pain and suffering – His passion.  But yet I can rejoice!  Because His death, His resurrection means I never need to. 

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.  But THANK GOD [emphasis mine)! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
 (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)


 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Comments

  1. Oh My Stars girl… that kitchen floor was GOOD to you! Love you so! I LOVE this portion of Scripture with Peter being restored… of course we know he was forgiven and redeemed already – but I love that the Lord in all grace, tangibly gives him three opportunities… three do overs! And really – who among us hasn’t needed a few of those?

    • Oh friend… I declare do-overs on a regular basis… and so thankful that His grace is so real and that it does cover so much.

  2. Oh you and I….we’re going through the same thing, friend. I’ve had Peter on my heart for weeks. wrote about him myself…and I’ve been wondering. thinking about how Jesus prepared Himself in prayer in Gethsemane…while Peter slept. A part of me wonders, if he hadn’t fallen asleep and prepared his own heart, if the denials would have been different. Of course, Jesus knew it would happen already and this is a moot point. but still…I hear you, Jesus…prayer prepares…

    • And I’m going to have to write more about this so I don’t leave a whole blog post in your comments 🙂 cuz I’m also wondering…Peter was alone when he failed. no other disciples were mentioned as witness….so there is power in community, don’t you think? And wow…Peter told his own story. he busted through pride and selfish gain and shared how grace grabbed hold. I wonder if his failures became part of his testimony, too…

      okay, I’m done:)

    • Well now… you’ve got me thinking and I want to know more about Peter… know any good Peter studies… because I think I have a Peter-heart…

      And I love it when God uses other people here and in my life to confirm what He has been teaching me in my day to day – so I love that we’re on the same page… And you can comment here as much as you like – long tomes if you chose – you bless!

    • A very good friend recommended “A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of Simon Peter” by Michael Card to me after my post on Monday. I ordered it…

      Yes, I love how He confirms things in me using friends like you!! {HUGS}

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