The tears of a broken disciple

Had you asked Simon Peter 40 days before Pentecost if he could see himself as a bold public evangelist for Jesus Christ, I suspect he would have answered ‘No way!’ Peter’s usefulness for Jesus’ ministry was questionable with his old character. Jesus required radical change, painful change, which Peter would initially resist until broken for Jesus.

Peter could never have dreamed possible the events of his life with Jesus. Well, not until his self-will had died. The 24 hours leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion were just the beginning; they were crushing. Who would have thought that Judas would take “a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, …and weapons” (John 18:3) to betray Jesus with a kiss? “Then Simon Peter, having a sword (Lk 22:38), drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear… (John 18:10-11).

It’s no wonder Peter followed the arrested Jesus from “a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end” (Matthew 26:58). Feeling numb with defeat, Peter then did what was unimaginable for him; he publicly denied knowing Jesus, even resorting to bad language. “And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept(Mark 14:72; Luke 22:31-34). Peter snapped!

Tears of brokenness often precede fruitful service for Jesus. It’s the surrender that makes the difference. And Peter’s tears meant that he was ready for the spiritual reconstruction required for faithful service.

It soon began with Peter and “the other disciple (John), …going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple (John) …reached the tomb first. …Then Simon Peter came …and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple (John), …also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead (John 20:3-9).

Resurrected Jesus even rebuked them (the 11 disciples) for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen” (Mark 16:14). Doubting Thomas was invited to touch Jesus resurrection scars while being instructed; “Do not disbelieve, but believe” (John 20:27). But it was Jesus’ 3rd repeated question which struck home for Peter. “Simon, …do you love me?” Peter was grieved… and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’” (John 21:17). Within Peter’s heart of hearts, he was now sealed for a life of loving, sacrificial service for Jesus as Lord.

Jump forward to the day of Pentecost, and we find a differently charactered Peter, one empowered by the transforming Holy Spirit. Now, Peter was publicly “standing with the eleven, he lifted up his voice and addressed” the crowd boldly and with clarity proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord. With many words he called them to “repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:14-40). Jesus’ earlier words of affirmation for Peter (Luke 22:32) had become reality; he would never be the same again.

I encourage you to accept the pains of life as training for a more Christ-like character. Yield to the Saviour’s corrections. Bow under the loving will of your God, so that He can reconstruct you for greater fruitfulness; resulting in His pleasure and His glory.

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