There are times when I am driving my car, running simple errands or on my way to work, when I am struck by the landscape around me. The lush green hills set against the pure blue sky with puffs of clouds so thick, I wonder if I could reach out and grab one. Everything pressing on my mind vanishes and I feel a sense of wonder and amazement. Then I ask myself “Has that been there all long? How could I have missed something so amazing?” I’m especially surprised when it’s a route I often take.
This is true when it comes to reading God’s Word. It’s incredible what God can open our eyes to see in His Word at different times, especially in places that have become familiar. That’s the beauty of Scripture: Whether it be your first time reading it or the 20th time, you can still stumble across sweet treasures. Just like on my drives, the Lord is constantly setting our gaze on new things for us to see.
A New Treasure in John 13
A recent treasure for me has been reading Peter’s denial found in John 13:36-38. This story comes on the heels of Jesus serving the disciples by washing their feet, the same occasion where He announced to them that someone would shortly deny Him and informed them of His upcoming departure. When Peter heard that Jesus would soon leave them, he said, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” His response makes sense because they had experienced so much together and grown in their relationship. Jesus’ question in return carried a tone somewhat like “Really?” He said “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.”
I’ve wondered whether it was necessary for Jesus to tell Peter that he would deny him three times. After all, Peter had told Jesus he was prepared to be his “ride or die” and was willing to lay down his life for Jesus. Yes, Jesus corrected him, and informed him he wouldn’t be so passionate and ready to die for him as he thought. Part of me wonders, couldn’t Jesus have left this part out? And in telling Peter that he would deny him, wouldn’t it make his grief to come even more painful?
But pondering it more, I realized something: Jesus sees us as we are and knows the effects of living in the flesh are much worse than we could ever fully understand. Yet, He has chosen to cover us with His abundant grace. At that moment, I realized He wasn’t saying this to make Peter feel greater guilt later, but because he knew Peter would experience a deeper measure of His grace after doing what he never thought he would do. This sounds very much like what the prophet Jeremiah said of man’s heart in 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Even though we fail to understand our hearts, Jesus does.
When Grace Abounds
Even the Apostle Paul understood this internal conflict. He wrote in Romans 7:21-24: “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” While we want to serve and obey the Lord, our sin nature gets in the way. Like Peter, we can passionately say, “We’ll follow you anywhere!” but then find ourselves doing the very things we don’t want to do.
I can relate to this myself. There was a time in my walk with God where I chose to be disobedient to the Lord. I was a new believer, and though excited about my new relationship with God, there was still part of my life where I chose to live in disobedience— by living with my boyfriend. But the more I learned about God through his word, the more I realized I was not living a life that honored Him. Yet even when I had the chance to leave, I somehow convinced myself I could do both; I could live out my Christian faith while living in disobedience to God. In effect, I denied Jesus just as Peter had.
But God in His grace doesn’t just give us one chance to obey; He gives us multiple opportunities. God gave me the grace I needed to leave that situation. Just like with Peter, Jesus offered me restoration, and like Peter, my denial didn’t keep God from using my life for Kingdom purposes.
We can all relate to Peter. We desire to follow Christ but find ourselves failing at it. In those moments where we fall short, condemnation isn’t far away. The beauty of the gospel is that the more we fall, the more grace abounds, picking us up to stand firm in Christ. The enemy would like to leave us sitting in our sin, defeated by yet another failure, but Jesus invites us to run to Him for forgiveness. As he did with Peter, he does with us; he provides restoration. Praise God for his amazing grace!
About the Author:
Samantha Roberts currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa where she serves on staff with a campus ministry as the Women’s Coordinator. Samantha enjoys discipling women and equipping them to live out their calling. She is currently pursuing her M.A. in Religion at Reformed Theological Seminary.