Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of me this very night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you that this very night, before the rooster crows, you shall deny me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you” (Mathew 26: 31-35.)
Peter boldly rejected Christ’s prophecy; he vainly exalted himself above the other disciples, saying, “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.” Despite great effort, he would go on to deny the Lord three times before morning. Jesus promised that he would eventually send a replacement; after his resurrection and ascension, he fulfilled his commitment; Peter and the other disciples received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. After receiving God’s Spirit, Peter’s strength was restored; he immediately entered a crowded temple and boldly preached the gospel. The Peter that denied Christ leaned on his own strength; the Peter that proclaimed Christ relied upon God’s power. For the sake of Christ, Peter went on to endure beatings, imprisonment, persecutions without number, and even death [he was crucified upside down in the city of Rome.] Without God, it is difficult to accomplish even the simplest tasks. But with God, it is possible to move mountains.
Peter shares the experience of divine empowerment with some other notable men of the bible. While the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, a young Hebrew man named Moses who had grown up in Pharaoh’s household, believed it was his destiny to free his people. One day, Moses witnessed an Egyptian task master, beating one of his countrymen. Filled with rage, and a sense of duty, he killed the Egyptian. In an effort to conceal his crime, he buried the body beneath the sand. The body was discovered, and a few days later, Moses’ life was in jeopardy. Alone, and defeated, he fled to the desert and became a shepherd. For decades he cared for livestock. At the approximate age of 80 God appeared to him and instructed him to return to Egypt to free his people. He responded by telling God he wasn’t ‘the right man for the job.’ He no longer believed he was capable of accomplishing the task. A once prideful and self-reliant young man, had become an old man who recognized his own weakness (apart from God); he was finally ready to be used by the Lord. The young Moses, with his own power, was unable to bury even a single Egyptian. The mature Moses, utilizing God’s power, led a nation to freedom, and buried the entire Egyptian army beneath the waves of the red sea.
Western culture promotes self-reliance; in the divine culture, reliance upon God is paramount. Is there anything in your life that you are trying to accomplish on your own? Are you attempting to endure a difficult trial unaided? Are you struggling to overcome an addiction in isolation? Do you look to God for provision, or are you the provider? Your best efforts will never compare to the works of God. No matter how large the obstacle, or how great the need, if you humble yourself, you will harness the power of the one true and living God. Do this, and you will be able to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4: 13.)
“Lord Heavenly Father, we honor and praise You. You are an amazing God. Apart from You we are weak and incapable of accomplishing good things. Be our strength; may we rely upon You and not upon ourselves. Give us victory over the things that cause us to stumble; may we stand firm, may we endure, and may we overcome. May our hearts be humble, and our lives filled with joy. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.