So, there was this guy named Peter…
Peter was part of a group of guys who had really been trying to get their lives right, literally working on it for about 3 years. This group of guys had found a teacher who spoke words like none they had heard before. Words like freedom, peace, joy, words that promised a fulfilled life and even life forever. I mean to tell you these were some pretty good sounding ideas, and to imagine they could come true in their lives, and even others around them, well, you could certainly count Peter all in. In fact, Peter was pretty forward about being “all in”, he would make comments about how he would lay his life down for this teacher and his group. Oh yeah, you could count on Peter!
But the teacher had some other ideas as well as peace, freedom and joy. These words were a little bit harder to handle, words like forgiveness, repentance, and putting others before yourself. And, no matter what life throws at you, “follow me”. This teacher even went so far as to say the proof of love was to lay down, I mean literally die, for your friend. Now this is sounding a little hard right here. As you can guess, everybody heard love, peace and joy – “lay your life down” – not so much.
Now, as life would have it, it came time for Peter’s words to be tested, was he really the man he said he was? Peter was put in a position where his very life was at stake, he was scared, all he could see was disaster coming and it was coming up fast. So, he did what most of us would do in that position, he lied, he side-stepped, he pushed back, he even took it farther by denying the past 3 years of his life – know the teacher? NO WAY! What are you doing here? Don’t know, just saw the fire and I was cold. Are you sure you don’t know that teacher? Hell No! I don’t know him.
So, what about all those words of laying one’s life down for his friend?
Failed, that’s right, Peter failed. When it came time to be tested, the testing showed that Peter didn’t really believe. He thought he did, he claimed he did, he did good works, he walked alongside the teacher, he thought he had it all in order. He just really didn’t believe. The truth is that none of us will know if we believe until we are tested, until we come up against the hardest things life can throw at us. Then we will find out. Then is when we make our choice. That’s right, belief is a choice we make at that moment in time that we must decide – His way or my way. Do I protect myself, do I gratify myself, do I save myself?
Jesus said, “And he who does not take his cross (that includes pain, disease, relationships, jobs, lack of money, homelessness, and on and on) and follow after Me is not worthy of Me”
As we follow Jesus our “belief” is going to be tested. Our belief is an action, it is a denial of self and a stepping forward into relationship with our Lord. That means we will lose things that are “important” to us, we will be given the choice and we will have to lay them down. Even our very lives! The way to peace, joy, freedom and love is giving up ourselves and our ways, then taking on the ways of Jesus, that is self-sacrifice.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
Jesus gave His life, He sacrificed it all for us, but friendship is a two-way street, if He calls us friends, do we call Him a friend? Will we give up what gratifies us and do what gratifies Him? Will we love others more then we love ourselves and will we love Him more than those others? His life before our life, His will before our will – that is salvation, not of ourselves, but of Him.
Peter failed his first test, but after seeing Jesus risen from the dead he did believe. Just as we can believe, each test we come up to, we can see the risen Savior, Jesus. We can meet Him and be changed by Him. Growing in our salvation. Peter’s final test was literally giving his life for Jesus, he passed that test with flying colors, going to the cross himself. Peter had become Jesus’s friend, and Peter gave his life for his friend.
 The New King James Version. (1982). (Mt 10:38). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 The New King James Version. (1982). (Jn 15:13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.