Luke 22:54-62 NIV - Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.” 57 But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said. 58 A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” “Man, I am not!” Peter replied. 59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” 60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Acts 2:1 NIV - When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Peter… He wouldn’t stand up to a servant girl’s question. He denies even knowing Jesus... three times. He’s afraid to clarify who he was as a follower of Jesus. Rather than clarify truth, Peter hides in fear behind lies. Thankfully, Peter’s story doesn’t end at the point of his failing Christ. But this lack of clarity and courage was evident of something else… it was a love issue. Peter loved himself and his security more than his Savior and Lord. Peter had a strong affection and sentimentality toward Jesus, but this was where his the flaw in his “structural integrity” was exposed. Yet Jesus would give Peter three gifts to overcome his love failure and his three denials…
RESURRECTION. By resurrecting from the dead and appearing to Peter, Jesus demonstrated that Peter no longer needed to fear death. When the worst someone can do is kill you, but that proves insufficient - the result should be courage. As Peter demonstrated, it is normal for believers to experience life-altering doubts and fears, even after tremendous experiences with Christ. This is where KNOWING the truth of Christ’s resurrection is key. Feelings are fickle, but the resurrection is rooted in historical fact that is independent of our feelings. To love and be loved by the only One who has proven to be Master over disease, demons, and death needs to embolden us. Christ’s resurrection - and the hope of our own that He promised - needs to be foundational to our taking courage when in a faith trial. It fuels us to courageously clarify our identity as followers of Jesus Christ, and willingness to speak truth to all - not fearing the fallout of what man can do to us.
RESTORATION. In John 21, the resurrected Christ has a fascinating discussion with Peter by the Sea of Galilee. The one who denied Jesus three times is asked the same question by Jesus three times: “Do you love Me…?” Remember Peter’s lack of clarity and courage was at it’s root - a love malfunction. Rather than simply moving along and assuming everything was ok, Peter is confronted by Jesus face-to-face at the area of his failure. This was not to humiliate, but to give instruction and opportunity. Few of us will ever fail Christ as famously as Peter did, but when you do… Desire true restoration that comes through a confrontation of the real issue, a love issue. Let Jesus ask you repeatedly - not about why you failed or if you’ll avoid failing again, but “Do you love Me?” Love by clarity and courage is rooted when you become secure in Christ’s love for you despite your failures. This is only confirmed when you can honestly answer, “Yes Lord, you know I love you… and I will love your flock as you desire.” God restores us not merely to be back on the right track personally, but because of the blessing He wants us to be to His Church.
REGENERATION. In Acts 2, Peter and about 120 followers of Christ are baptized with the Holy Spirit in a miraculous gift of empowerment to be witnesses in the world. The regenerating Spirit of God empowers Peter with a holy boldness that he lacked just 7 weeks earlier. Peter would have opportunity that day (and in others to come) to stand boldly and courageously, clarifying the truth of Jesus Christ - even under persecution. His failures were not final, and his greatest impact on the church and on the world resulted only after Peter’s denials. This renewed love for Christ fueled clarity and courage in Peter shortly after he had “punted” just weeks before. Never underestimate the power of God’s Spirit to help you recover spiritually in a relatively short time.
Acts 2:4-6, 13-14 NIV - All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken…13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say…
Peter clearly and courageously communicates the truth of Jesus the Messiah - His death, His resurrection, His identity in Jewish Scripture as the One for whom they had been waiting. Peter does not demean or condemn this crowd of Jewish worshipers who had called for Christ’s death. Instead, he’s the perfect spokesman because he had failed Christ also! He presents the resurrection as fact to an audience who knew where Jesus had been buried, yet they knew the tomb was empty. They call out to the apostles for help in what to do with their guilt before God… Peter loves them with courageous clarity:
Acts 2:38-42 NIV - Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Why was Peter the perfect candidate to preach to this crowd on the Day of Pentecost? Because he had received mercy despite his failing Jesus. Peter proclaimed the same truth and gifts to this condemned crowd - resurrection, restoration, regeneration.
Peter demonstrates that the first step in loving by clarity is often to make sure you can even see the situation clearly by first examining yourself, your motives, your obstacles, and even your sins. He let Jesus love him so that he could love others by clarity and courage. Clarity toward others is always easier with the beam out of our own eye first! Do you have a beam in your eye that is affecting your ability to see another’s problem clearly? What might it be?
Matthew 7:3-5 ESV - Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Applying LCC Talk: Principles for Life-Giving Communication in a Hate-Speech World
Love by Candor & Confidentiality: BE TRUTHFUL — BE TRUSTWORTHY
Love by Converting Conflict: PURSUE LIFE NOT STRIFE
Love by Clean Conversation: PROMOTE THE PURE NOT THE PROFANE
Love by Compassionately Confronting: CONFRONT LIKE JESUS, RESPOND LIKE JESUS
Love by Clarity & Courage: BE CLEAR — CONQUER FEAR.