After Jesus told the disciples at the Last Supper that all of them would fall away, Peter proclaimed, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” Jesus responds, “Tonight – before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times. Peter continues to protest, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Mark 14:29, 31)
Later that evening after Jesus is arrested and is being questioned at the house of the High Priest, Peter is outside in the courtyard warming himself by the fire with some guards and servants. A servant girl accuses him of being a follower of Jesus. Peter denies that he knows Jesus. After the third accusation and denial, a rooster crows a second time and Peter remembers Jesus’ words. “Then Peter broke down and wept.” (Mark 14:72)
Falling into wrongful conduct is so easy. We encounter an unexpected circumstance and react out of fear, anger, lust, greed or one of our other emotions, and in a twinkling of an eye, we do something we regret. We sin; we hurt a loved one; we hurt ourselves.
How often have I reacted in anger with an indifferent store clerk or a person serving on the help desk of a computer company who is unable to remedy a technical problem! How often have I been tempted to tell a boss or person of influence what he or she wants to hear rather than the truth! How often have I refrained from offering to pray with someone in need or speak about Jesus out of fear of what people might think!
Peter no doubt considered himself stronger than the rest of the disciples and his pride could not imagine any circumstance that would have him denying that he knew the Lord. Yet in a moment of confusion when his paradigm of Jesus was being shattered before his eyes, fear reigned and he did the unthinkable.
Similarly, my pride causes me to stumble time after time. Recently, an organization denied a “Seal of Approval” to a book I have written because it was not considered in sufficient alignment with the characteristics of the organization’s constituency. My pride prompted me to write an immediate rebuttal with copies to those making the evaluation. The rebuttal did not persuade them; it only angered them and opened me to charges of being uncharitable and unprofessional. Like Peter, I was humiliated.
Has your pride caused you to stumble? Regardless of what you have done, God is always willing to forgive a repentant heart. We should be encouraged by Peter’s example. Though he faltered in his commitment to the Lord, he regretted his actions; the Lord forgave him, and strengthened him through the Holy Spirit to become the first leader of Christianity – pride’s lament.