Once, Twice Three Times Denied
Jesus' heart was heavy. He was about to walk into unimaginable pain. Peter had just proclaimed that he would never deny Jesus, and the other Eleven said the same.
Luke 22: 31 And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail;and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."
33 But he said to Him, "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death." 34 Then He said, "I tell you,Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me."
We know from the book of Job, that although we may not find it pleasent, God does allow satan to "sift us". Like Job, Peter was one of God's own.
From this perspecitve, it appears that although we may find the "sifting experience" especially unpleasent, in the end, it makes us better equipped to help others. (not unlike boot camp, I suspect. I'm fairly certain that one DI I heard of was actually satan.) After Job went through what he went through, he acted as an intercessor for the very "comforters" who had slandered him and accused God.
Jesus' faith in us is based in reality. He knows where our weaknesses are. He sees what satan wants to do to us. He may even allow satan to push us so hard we fail. And He knows that it will make us stronger. He also sees past it, "when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren" ... he believes in us, when we're over confident, and also when we are under confident. He knows we'll get through it, even when we don't even know it's coming. He knows the pain we feel when we fail Him, how we desire to isolate our selves, and consider ourselves separate ...
He knows that we go through things, it's a temporary break in a relationship with Him.... when you have returned to Me ... we can't strengthen our friends unless our relationship with Him is restored. And He waits for us.
Mark 16: 6 But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You
seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen!
He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.
7 But go, tell His disciples--and Peter--that He is going
before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as
He said to you."
Peter didn't even consider himself a disciple any longer. He had failed his best friend. And in His triumph, Jesus looked past the failure and into strength.
I will never argue the superiority of "Christianity" over another religion. Too many things have been done in the name of "Christianity" that Jesus did not approve of. But I will defend the superiority of Jesus Christ to any other person in history.
Nobody else reaches out to not only restore the friendship after a denial, but to believe in who we are. Nobody else said, "Forgive them". And while He did say, "I don't condemn you." He did not stop there. He also said, "Sin no more." He takes us where we are, and turns us into who we can be.
If I have one hero in history, if there is one drummer to whom I will march, if there is one person worthy to be called "My King", I choose Jesus.