“Simon Peter asked him, ‘Lord where are you going?’ Jesus replied, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.’ Peter asked, ‘Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Then Jesus answered, ‘Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’”
- John 13:36-38
Normally in these devotionals, I tend to lead up to a question or finish with one for the sake of reflection. But this morning we’re going to start with a question.
Where are you in need of humility? Before you continue reading, pause and consider at least one area where you could demonstrate greater humility.
As we saw last week, and here again in this passage, Peter was not always the quickest to demonstrate humility. He wanted to follow Jesus wherever he would go, which was a good thing. But his determination wasn’t leading to understanding, wisdom, and humility. His determination was only pursuing a fulfilment of his own hopes.
Peter thought he knew who Jesus was and what Jesus had come to do. Peter wanted to see Jesus ascend to a throne, take over the nation, bring peace, order, and a sword. Peter wanted to be in all the action, to fight alongside of his Master and be his right-hand man.
Peter was willing to die for Jesus. But Peter had no idea that Jesus Himself would die, and that Jesus would die—not a triumphant or warrior-like death—but one of immense humility.
Jesus warns Peter of his arrogance and informs him of where his discipleship is really at. “Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
It’s one of the most sobering statements in all of Scripture. Peter, who has been following Jesus around for three years, is informed that he really has no idea what’s going on. And not only that, but he’s actually going to do the opposite of what he thinks he’s capable of.
Rather than laying himself down for Jesus, Peter’s going to disown him.
“Absurd!” thinks Peter. “I could never do that. I would never be embarrassed or humiliated or ashamed of you enough to disown you.”
Yet he did.
Why couldn’t Peter follow Jesus to where he was going? Because Peter actually had no idea where Jesus was going. His head was too caught up in his own agenda for Jesus, in his own view of Jesus, in his own expectations of Jesus. He couldn’t see that what lies at the heart of Jesus’ ministry and personhood is humility.
If Peter had to figure this one out the hard way, how much more might we? How often do we assume that we have it all figured out? That our opinions are the right ones? That our ways are the best? How often do we disown Jesus (or one another) for the sake of saving face?
In your life, where might greater humility be needed?
When Peter realized that he had denied and disowned Jesus, we are told elsewhere in the gospels that Peter broke down and wept. He hadn’t realized that he was capable of doing such a thing.
And yet, Jesus gives him an opportunity to be redeemed.
Later in the gospel of John, after his resurrection, Jesus is sitting on a shoreline with the disciples, and he turns to Peter and asks him, “Do you love me?”
Three times Jesus asks him this question: “Do you love me?” Three times. Why is that significant?
Because Peter denied Jesus three times.
For every failure, for every assertion of pride, for every time we protect rather than deny ourselves for the sake of Christ, He offers us an equal number of opportunities to receive grace and to learn how to love Him more.
Will we deny Him? Yes. But will He yet ask us to love Him, over and over again?
Prayer: (by Sarah Geringer)
Father, today we choose to put on the holy clothes you want us to wear in the coming weeks.
Mercy instead of vengeance.
Kindness instead of indifference.
Humility instead of pride.
Gentleness instead of harshness.
Patience instead of impatience.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, help us to place these virtues in our hearts, minds, attitudes, words and actions, whether demonstrated privately, online or in public.
Hold us accountable, Lord.
Make us ambassadors of humility to all around us.