Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Two men are spotlighted on the stage of world history: Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot. The latter ended up a disconsolate suicide; the former, a great Apostle who wrote an honored portion of the New Testament. Aside from petty embezzlement, Judas has no serious marks against him beyond his betraying Christ, whereas Peter cowardly denied Him with cursing and swearing. He too was disconsolate after he realized what he had done and wished that he could die. What kept him from ending up a suicide?
(1) He saw forgiveness in the face of Jesus after the awful deed of denying Him, when the Savior "turned and looked at" him (Luke 22:61).
(2) Peter was not beyond crying tears; Mark says that "when he thought about it, he wept" (14:72). Crying those tears was the best thing he had done in a long time. But tears alone can't save anyone because we read that after he had "sold his birthright" for a momentary sensual indulgence, Esau's tears led him to "no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears" (Heb. 12:16, 17). Peter came within a millimeter of Esau's disaster! He could easily have ended his days in hopeless anguish, but for something else.
(3) He welcomed a crucifixion of self. It's not that he came apart in frantic, pointless self-deprecation, moaning in despair "I'm no good!" But in the hours that followed the shameful denial, he faced reality in sincere, heartfelt prayer. The Holy Spirit held up a mirror for Peter to see himself as he really was and he did not reject the revelation, painful though it was.
(4) Sensing utter unworthiness ever to proclaim the gospel, he resigned his apostolate and returned to his humble livelihood, "I am going fishing" (John 21:3; could it be that none of us can ever honor Christ in preaching unless we do "resign"?). He didn't bang on the leaders' door and demand reinstatement; he accepted his humiliation. But again there's no virtue in humiliation per se; Peter took another step.
(5) He chose to believe the Good News of God's forgiveness "in Christ," and to let himself be "sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:2). He did not resist being "begotten … again unto a lively hope ... to the end, ... [of being] redeemed ... with the precious blood of Christ" (vss. 3-19, KJV). A happy man forgiven in Christ, he was nonetheless ever afterward on the verge of tears of contrition (John 21:17).
A good way for all of us to walk! Christ can save the most hopeless failure of a man or woman; let's let Him do it!
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 17, 2001.
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