By Dudley Hall www.sclm.org
Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered him, "Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward." Peter said to him, "Lord why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Jesus answered, "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." John 13:36-38 (ESV)
Peter is a committed disciple. He wants desperately to be wherever Jesus is. He is not some half-hearted semi-believer. Not many could stand the comparison with him in his level of loyalty shown towards Jesus. He was willing to fight the Roman soldiers who came to get Jesus in the garden. He was always willing to put his opinion on the table even if others shot it down. The problem is that following Jesus takes more than any man or woman can produce.
In short, Peter wanted what was not available and couldn't do what he was committed to do. This could lead to some frustrated living if not addressed.
There are some aspects of God's character that are not transferable, and there are some things Jesus did that we aren't allowed to do. It seems that we grieve over these limitations and fail to embrace the privileges that are given by grace. For instance, we want to know what God knows. We can know like he knows and we can know some things he knows, but we are not God and we cannot know all that he knows. That offends the mind that wants to answer to no one except self. God is all knowing and we aren't. We seem to think that we have a right to have an answer to every question, and that if God doesn't grant our wish, he is to be doubted. He gives as a privilege enough understanding to be obedient. We have no rights except to expect him to be faithful to his promise. He has been and is.
There are so many aspects of God's character that are transferable. If we would just give up our insistence on knowing everything and being in control of everything, and concentrate of embracing the merciful, slow to anger, faithful, forgiving, nature that God has provided through faith in Jesus Christ, we would find a level of joy beyond imagination.
Peter was not yet aware that human zeal -- no matter how passionate -- couldn't keep its promises to God. That had to be exposed in him before he was broken enough to trust the grace of God.
It seems that we continue to proclaim a gospel that implies that committed people can actually live the Christian life. We must and will learn that the gospel is not about a bigger commitment on our part, but a bigger grace on God's part. It is more about him and his willingness to work in us than it is about our ramping up more commitment to be faithful to him. The more we are aware of how faithful he is, the more our faith grows.
Peter was later to discover that God's commitment to him was so overwhelming that trust in God was the only viable option. He would later be martyred for Christ because God was faithful to him and enabled him to stand fast beyond human capacity.
Don't settle for human zeal that will ultimately fail when you can have a faithful God who never fails.