June 8. John 18:1-27; Matthew 26:75

GRACE LESSONS: We start Week Two exploring the hardest three days of Peter’s life, I suspect. This pivotal moment in history has affected every person on this planet, whether they realize it or not. For Peter, it was particularly difficult and heartbreaking. Not only did Peter lose Jesus’ physical presence because of His arrest and subsequent crucifixion, Peter lost his self-respect and his confidence as he denied Christ three times. I wonder how this story first “got out” to everyone. Did John hear all three denials and tell everyone? Somehow, I don’t think so. My best guess is that Peter himself shared this ignominious time in his life with all the detail we see outlined in John’s gospel. No matter who made the story public, Peter had to live with it, didn’t he? We see in this story, up close and personal, Peter’s inability to live up to his great professions of love for and faith in Christ. One of the sweetest and most humbling verses in the Bible is this one:  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8 NIV). Jesus predicted Peter’s betrayal. Jesus knew about all the sins of the world. And still He died for us, taking our sins on Himself and bearing the wrath of God so that we could have … GRACE. Undeserved pardon, given to us through His sacrificial death. Oh friends. How can we ever thank Him enough?

OUR PASSAGE: Did you imagine, as you read? Did you see the darkness of the night when they came to arrest Jesus? The confusion of the moment when Peter drew his sword? Did you feel his heart beating hard as he was asked directly if he knew Jesus? What a nightmare of a night for this passionate but flawed follower of Jesus! At this point, the disciples had no belief that Jesus would rise again. All was dark and very, very frightening.

My verse: John 18:11 “But Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”

My response: Peter came ready for a fight. That part of him that rebuked Jesus in Matthew 16 when Jesus plainly told his disciples that He would suffer and die came out again. No one was going to hurt Peter’s leader when Peter still had a sword in hand!  Yet You, Lord Jesus, showed Peter the harder way. You chose to receive the suffering God ordained for You. This wasn’t passivity. No, You had strength and courage and also the ability to call on angels to help You, yet You sheathed that strength for me and for a broken and needy world. Lord, help me to know when to fight and when to sheath that sword and receive whatever sorrow or suffering You have allowed into my life!

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Introductory Video to Week Two