“Peter said to him, ‘Even though they all fall away, I will not.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.’” Mark 14:29-30
Peter was so emphatic about his love for and commitment to Jesus. He was convinced that no matter what happened, he would stand with his Christ. Yet even he fell away. His experience that night is probably the most detailed of any of the disciples, because we see this denial take place. And when Peter recognizes that moment of his betrayal, the fulfillment of these words from the One he loved so dearly, he breaks down weeping. Peter has come face to face with his failure. It’s a heartbreaking moment when we see our failure before our eyes and can do nothing to change what just occurred.
What stands out to me today is how Peter changes in the following pages of Scripture. We see the effects of the Spirit of God within him. This should give us hope. However epic our failure has been, God can still use us to bring Himself great glory, to show His unending faithfulness, steadfast love, and surpassing power and greatness in this jar of clay. Peter was so set on the belief that he would hold fast to Christ. But then he became an example to us of how weak we truly are on our own. Without the power of God within us, we will fall away. If we aren’t relying fully on His strength, if we aren’t filled with His Spirit and abiding in Christ, we aren’t strong enough to stand against the temptations and battles we face.
Look at how differently Peter responds in Acts 4. A man has been healed, and Peter and John are brought before the Jewish high court and questioned. Peter gives all glory to God, declaring plainly that it is by the power of the name of Jesus, the One whom they crucified and who rose again, that this man is now well. The rulers deliberate, trying to find a way to stop the spread of this gospel. “So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard’” (Acts 4:18-20). While before Peter denied Christ in front of servants and those outside the court, he now stands in front of the Jewish leaders and refuses to stop speaking of Jesus and the truth he has come to know.
This isn’t an effect of willpower. It isn’t that Peter has seen more things and therefore has mustered the strength to stand against the tide. It is that the Spirit of God now dwells within him. Just as it dwells within all of us who are in Christ. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). Without the power of the Holy Spirit, fear reigns in our heart. Doubt and anxieties hinder us from wholehearted trust and worship. But God comes in and changes all of that, because He fills us with Himself. Through Him we live exemplifying His power, His steadfast love, and self-control shown in our obedience and our sensitivity to the Spirit in all circumstances.
In the times when you’re lamenting over your own failure and weakness, remember that it is the power of God within you—the same God who by the greatness of His might calls out each star by name and not one is missing because He is strong in power (Isaiah 40:26). It is before your Master that you stand or fall, and you will be upheld, because the Lord is able to make you stand (Romans 14:4).