Jesus and His apostles had a last dinner together, a Jewish Seder as part of the Passover. While they were eating, Peter, one of the apostles, started talking about his faith. Jesus responded by telling Peter the truth: at that moment, Peter’s faith was not strong at all. Here is what happened.
33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. 34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. Luke 22:33-34
Peter was a loudmouth and liked to brag, and he was put in his place by Jesus. But the story does not end there. After Jesus was arrested, Peter was confronted by three people about his being with Jesus, which Peter denied. Here is the rest of the story.
60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spoke, the cock crew. 61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. Luke 22:60-62
After He was raised, Jesus said the following to Peter. This was a prediction of the death of Peter, that Peter was to be crucified just like Jesus was. (The stretched hands were an allusion to crucifixion, common at the time.)
18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. John 21:18-19
After all this, in the book of Acts, we see Peter as the bold leader of a new movement. His faith, nothing more than empty words at the last supper, was now stronger than any earthly faith. He preached without fear, he suffered imprisonment and many other hardships along the way. He was even crucified! What happened to Peter that caused him to go from being a loud-mouthed coward to a brave evangelist? He saw the risen Savior, his Savior, Jesus.
To start, when Jesus corrected Peter, He did not reject Peter. He never told Peter to go away. He continued to work to make Peter grow in faith. Even when Jesus said to Peter “get behind me, Satan”, He kept working in Peter’s life (Mark 8:31-33, Matt 16:21-23). Jesus does the same with all of us. He does not leave; He does not give up.
This story is part of the evidence for the FACT of the resurrection of Jesus. It was not an illusion; it was not made up to control people. It happened, and those who saw the resurrected Jesus were so changed that they were willing to die for preaching about it. In Acts 5:29-32 Peter defended his belief in the resurrection and he was whipped and beaten as a result. Not only that, but he rejoiced that they beat him for the sake of the gospel, Acts 5:41.
Many skeptics think that the resurrection was a hallucination, a story made up to confuse and mislead people. That is not what we see here. Peter’s faith, together with the life of Paul, who was also severely persecuted for his preaching, are very strong evidence of the reality of the resurrection of Jesus.
What does this mean for us? It means Jesus is like no one else. In Romans 1:4, Paul tells us that Jesus’ resurrection proves that Jesus is the Son of God, meaning He is God Himself. It proves that God did indeed walk among us, that He definitely came to earth for our good. It tells us that we MUST listen to Him, follow His orders, and live according to the scripture.
His resurrection means that we can overcome all the turmoil and sin we see in the world today. No matter what happens, we can rely on Jesus. In His resurrection, He has defeated the power of death, sickness, and all the sins that beset us (1 Cor 15:55-58). He is unique in all of history.
This is GOOD NEWS! Happy Easter!