Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Tale Of Two Peters

"Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. 67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.”
68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying.” And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed.
69 And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, “This is
one of them.” 70 But he denied it again.
And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, “Surely you are
one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.”
71 Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!”
72 A second time
the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept." 

Mark 14:66-72

Every time I read verses about Peter denying Jesus, my heart goes out to him.  It really does, and in an instant, I am taken back to school days when peer pressure was at its highest and criticism from peers really did its best to try and affect the life being lived.    Here, we can most definitely feel bad for Peter, because just a short while ago, he was telling Jesus that he would never deny him, that he would stand by him always.  Just a few short hours before!  And just like that, Jesus was arrested, and fear got the better of Peter.  As he stood outside the building, hoping for any word about how things were going on the inside, he was afraid that had he admitted to being one of the disciples, he too, would find himself arrested and on trial.

It's certainly easy to understand his fear.  It's also easy to play this in any hundreds of scenarios in the present day as well.  I won't go there though, because that's not the point I'm trying to make today.  Instead, I want to think on Peter, because the Peter that we're reading about here in Mark is clearly not the same Peter that we read about in the book of Acts.  What do I mean by that?  Check this out in Acts, chapter 2:

"But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words."  Acts 2:14

One day, Peter is denying that he even knows Jesus, and just a short while later he is standing up in front of a multitude, professing the goodness of God!  When we look at these two different sides of the same man Peter, it can certainly make someone wonder.  What exactly happened to Peter that changed him so?  I'll tell you exactly what changed him:

"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."  Acts 2:4

Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, who gave him the boldness that he always wished he'd had.  Peter was never the same again, after that moment where the Holy Spirit came upon him.  While Peter was with Jesus, he listened to all the things that Jesus taught, and tried his best to understand them, but it wasn't until the moment when the Holy Spirit became a part of his life that he really began seeing what Jesus had been telling him.  The Holy Spirit is our key to better understanding of the scriptures, and of the many words that Jesus gave us while He was here on earth.

Much is made of becoming a born-again Christian, that moment when you invite Jesus into your life you become a new person.  And much should be made of that- there is great rejoicing in Heaven every time someone prays the sinners prayer.  But, so many people stop there.  They become a Christian, and then they go no further- they are like Peter, who spends time with Jesus, walks with Jesus, but when the moment really and truly counts, they listen to the fear inside of them and maybe deny what they know to be truth.  The fact is, and we can see very clearly from Peter's example, that the moment the new man really emerges is after the Holy Spirit has entered the picture.

And do you know that inviting the Holy Spirit into your life is just as easy as asking Jesus into your life? 

"Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”  Acts 2:38-39

The truth is, it is all well and good and wonderful to be a Christian, but we really cannot be a complete Christian until we have the Holy Spirit acting in our lives.  It's the Holy Spirit who gives us the tools we need to succeed in living here on earth.  It's the Holy Spirit who gives us discernment and who gives us the boldness we need to share Christ with those who are hurting.  It's the Holy Spirit who gives us the words to share with the brokenhearted, all we have to do is invite Him in.

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