Peter's Failure Comes Back to Haunt Him

in a good way.

Acts 3:11-16 (NIV)

While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

Picture this scene. The man held on to Peter and John, and this draws a crowd. People actually came running to them. They were astonished but, more importantly, they thought this was Peter’s doing. This is a perfect opportunity to preach the gospel, and Peter lays it on them brilliantly.

But think about how easily this could have gone wrong. They thought Peter was the source of the healing power. They were close to worshipping him. That’s a great temptation; we see idolized people destroyed by their success all the time. But Peter seems immune. Why?

Because he denied Christ three times. The worst moment in Peter’s life was, in a way, the best. His complete failure is seared into his memory. It’s ever before him and ever painful. It keeps him humble and it keeps him dependent on his Lord. He will go on to lead an exemplary life, living and dying for Christ.

The slogan, “No pain, No gain” fits life in Christ much better than it fits exercise. Our sin and our slow learner nature necessitate tough, clear lessons from God. Nothing focuses the mind like pain.

Peter may have spent the rest of his life wishing he hadn’t failed so miserably that fateful night. But he should have eventually learned to appreciate that it happened.

Failure is sometimes the secret of success.

Without our failures, there would be no gospel. How do you feel about your past? Can you see the point of your mistakes? Or do they eat away at you?

Pain is a good thing. Physical pain keeps us from injury. Emotional pain drives us to Christ. Stuff is supposed to hurt, but don’t let the pain confuse you.

Lay your pain before the Lord and ask Him to reveal his purposes. Do not shrink from being reminded of your mistakes. Search for meaning, not comfort.

Understanding makes pain bearable.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.