We all remember the story of Peter and his denial of Jesus Christ. Although Jesus revealed to Peter he would deny him three times, Peter did not believe that he would. He insisted that Jesus’ assessment was not right. Peter said to Him: “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You,” Matthew 26:35. Peter reminds us that we all have good intentions when it comes to doing the right thing, and following Jesus Christ. We go into situations. and we really believe that we can handle any temptation that coming our way. Then all of sudden we find ourselves doing the very thing that we promised not to do.
The reason we do this is because we lack the discipline to meet our goals and keep our promises. We need discipline to control our eating, our tongues, and our bodies. Without discipline we cannot do the will of God. To be disciples of Jesus Christ, we need discipline. Peter lacked discipline when he denied Jesus, because as the story went—Peter denied Him three times before the cock crowed twice. The guilt associated with his mistake disciplined him. Like most of us who have a sincerity to live right, we know how Peter felt when he messed up. We know all too well the regret and the silent wishing to take everything back that was said. We understand Peter’s struggle with forgiving himself and moving past the error. We can relate to Peter’s thoughts of giving up on himself, and his ministry.
We know those thoughts of unworthiness, which go through our minds when stuff like this happens. As Peter realized, and we have come to embrace, Jesus does not condemn us. He gives us the opportunity to repent and recover from guilt and shame associated with sin. When Jesus appeared to Peter, after his Sunday morning resurrection, Jesus asked him a series of three questions, i.e., “Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me more than these?… He said to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me?… He said to him, Feed my sheep… He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me? Again, Jesus said to him—feed my sheep,” John 21:15-17. Each time Jesus inquired, Peter explained, “You know I love you.” We may do the wrong thing, but if we are willing to allow Jesus to correct us and love us, we can experience grace, which forgives and opens up another opportunity to serve and get it right.
For every one of Peter’s denials, Jesus affirmed his love for Peter and Peter’s love for Him. Regardless of how challenging life becomes, let us remember that through every challenge and every shortcoming, Jesus is teaching us, building us, and disciplining us for the discipleship.
My son played in a golf tournament in Clarksville, Tenn. On the second day the weather was cold, windy, and rainy. At the 12th hole, my son had made some pretty egregious putting errors, costing him a lot of strokes. He came over to me wanting to quit the tournament, because of “weather conditions.” I reminded him that he had played in similar conditions. Then I asked him, “Do you like green eggs and ham? Will you eat them in a box? Will you eat them with a fox? Will you eat them in the rain? Will you eat them on a train?” Of course, I was not talking about ‘green eggs and ham.’ I was referring to golf. My son finished the tournament. When we love something like green eggs and ham, no matter what the conditions are we will have the discipline and thirst to do it. Peter liked green eggs and ham, and was willing and the discipline to eat them whether in a box or with a fox, in season and out of season, because of his love for Christ. When we feel like we cannot go on, let us ask ourselves, “Do you like green eggs and ham?”