From Failure to Rock

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Bible scholar John MacArthur describes Jesus’ chosen apostles this way: They were a motley crew of ordinary, uneducated men, not showing any exceptional talent for speaking, leading, or teaching. Blockheads. Perhaps worst of all was Simon, the one Jesus picked to lead this merry band of misfits. Jesus gave him the name Peter, which in Greek is Petra, or Rock. But repeatedly, Peter shows us that while operating under his own will, he was anything but a rock. For example, when trying to kill one of the men who came to arrest Jesus, he missed his head and cut off his ear instead. He was a never-ending whirlwind of opinions and actions, and he typically failed when it mattered most.

At the last supper, Peter proclaimed, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you” (Matthew 26:33). But a few hours later, he denied knowing Jesus three times!

How did this failed mess of a man go on to give arguably one of the Bible’s most powerful sermons and lead thousands to Christ on Pentecost? In John 21, we read that Jesus called him out, and on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he stopped being Simon and became Peter, the Rock.

After a night of fruitless fishing, Jesus calls to them from the beach and tells them to lower their nets on the right side of the boat. They then catch so many fish that they can’t haul in the nets. Peter, realizing it’s Jesus, “threw himself into the sea” (John 21:7, ESV, italics mine) to get to Jesus. The exchange that follows changes Peter forever, changing him from failure to rock.

John 21:15-17
15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. 16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. 17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”

Jesus explains to Peter that he has two jobs: follow Jesus and be a shepherd to his sheep. Previously, Peter had failed because his decisions were based on his belief in himself. He was trying to operate on his own, and that’s why he failed. What a relief that God does his best work with nothing. (Check out Genesis 1:1 for another great example of this.)

Jesus had to bring Peter face to face with the true depth of his sin and, consequently, the true depth of God’s grace and mercy before he could stop relying on himself and truly turn himself over to Jesus (John Reilly sermon, “Peter, The Disciple”). When we allow Jesus to show us the same truth, he can use us right where we live to accomplish his amazing work.

John’s recounting of Peter’s story shows us how God uses bent and broken people to do amazing things. His requirements? Have a humble and repentant heart, and a desire to love him and to love others.

2 Corinthians 4:7
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

Have you recently examined why you follow Jesus?

Ask yourself if you truly “wait on him”, or do you do what you think is best?

Next Steps:
Find a way to take that love you profess for Christ and cast it onto others over a meal or a game of golf, or even working in the garden with a neighbor. Let go of being your own god. Commit Isaiah 55:8-9 to memory.

Participate in 21 Days of Prayer. You can find out more at (Download the personal prayer guide. Share a request for prayer. Download the parent resource)

Lord, thank you for revealing my true motivations to me. Help me to stop putting myself at the center of my world and replace it with your lordship and a deep desire to humble myself. Help me to love you more than myself and to serve others because of your love for us. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 2
Today’s Prayer Focus for 21 Days of Prayer: Our Pastors, church staff, Group Leaders, DreamTeam members.

This post was written by Martha Preckler. Martha loves Jesus and growing closer to him every day. She loves serving on the Sparkle Team and Greeter Team, as a Landing Leader, GrowthTrack hostess, and fill-in writer for LIO. Martha is the grateful mother of two grown sons and one daughter-in-law. Both sons are good writers, but one is a published urban fantasy writer and self-proclaimed grammar dictator, which he swears he picked up from his mother. She has been a Toledo Business Journal contributor, speech writer, as well as creator of dozens of promotional pieces for seniors’ events and programming offer by the YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo.

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