Our lessons this week will focus upon Peter's failure--specifically, his denials of the Lord. We will share four significant reasons why Peter failed in this matter. It is our desire that God will grant us the wisdom to learn from Peter's mistakes. May we learn from his experience and not fall into the same mistakes he did.
THE FIRST REASON WHY PETER FAILED IS BECAUSE HE BOASTED TOO MUCH.
On the night before our Lord's crucifixion, Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper memorial and then told the disciples in John 13:36 - "Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward." Peter then asked and boasted - "Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake." Jesus' response was this - "Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times" (Mark 14:30). According to Luke 22:33, Peter made another lofty claim - "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death." Additionally, in Matthew 26:33, Peter is recorded as saying - "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble." It's pretty clear, isn't it? Peter liked to boast. He claimed that he was willing to be put in prison with Jesus. He bragged that he would die with Christ before he would deny Him. Of course, we know that it was just a few hours later that Peter would fulfill the Lord's prophecy. Peter did deny the Lord three times. He swore that he didn't know Jesus, even though he had boasted earlier that he would never deny Christ.
Why did Peter fail? Part of the reason must be attributed to his pride. Proverbs 16:18 teaches - "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." That was certainly true in Peter's case. This principle is shown to be true numerous times in the Scriptures. In Luke 15, the older brother boasted of his own self-righteousness and then failed to show compassion to his younger brother who had repented. Yes, pride does go before destruction. Consider also the Pharisee in Luke 18:11. He was so full of pride and boasting that he thanked the Lord that he wasn't like other sinful men! But, what did Jesus say about him? "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled" (Luke 18:14). Even when we are helping to restore those who have been overtaken in sin, we must take Paul's warning seriously. We must consider ourselves lest we also be tempted (Gal. 6:1)--tempted to become self-righteous and full of pride when we see the faults of others.
Friends, are you exercising a spirit of humility? Let us remember that "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). If we exalt ourselves, we will be humbled, one way or another. But, if we humble ourselves, the Lord will exalt us (I Pet. 5:6)! Perhaps Peter wouldn't have failed if he had not been so boastful and full of pride. Undoubtedly, all of us would sin less if we worked at being more humble.