Posted by: mikenicholsblog | July 26, 2015

keep climbing

Last week had many highlights for my wife and me. We had to be at a conference in Colorado, and we were determined to climb some of those incredible mountains.  Between altitude and our present conditioning (we did prepare), we realized very quickly we were in over our heads. Throughout the week, we progressed (or attempted to). On Thursday we climbed Pike’s Peak! I will leave it to your imagination to estimate how much we climbed.  We experienced true humiliation when we moved over for the young men who were running the mountain.  We were progressing, but our weaknesses were evident throughout the week.  On a much grander scale were the weaknesses that Peter’s life demonstrated to all of us during the last week of Christ’s earthly life heading to the cross — He didn’t just fail to crest a mountain! Compare his week to the events leading up to the Cross.

A quick read of the events gives us insight into the selfless love of Christ and the struggles of His disciples. In the upper room, He washed their feet in an incredible picture of love. Later that week in a garden called Gethsemane, Christ gave us the ultimate example of doing the Father’s will. And then, for you and me, He hung on a cross and took the sins of the whole world on Himself. There is no greater love.

Contrast that love with the week Peter experienced. How could someone spend so much time with Christ and make so many blunders? When Christ washed the feet of His disciples in the upper room, Peter had a problem with it. It’s a fascinating discourse as Christ provides an amazing picture of a humble servant, and Peter objects before relenting. Wouldn’t Peter have known, or trusted that his Lord knew what He was doing?  And how about the scene at Christ’s arrest?!  Do you remember Peter’s part? With a swing of his sword, he cut off a soldier’s (Malchus’) ear, which drew a rebuke from Christ. Christ reminded Peter that the Father had prepared this cup for Him to drink. (John 18:10-11)

Continuing his not-so-stellar week, Peter fell asleep with two other disciples as Christ prayed in the garden. Obviously, Christ was not pleased that His friends failed in keeping watch.  But Peter’s ultimate failure came with his infamous denials. Christ predicted them, and Peter passionately responded, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Matt. 26:35). We all know what happened! I can only imagine that for the rest of Peter’s life, he contemplated how it all could have gone so wrong.

Can you imagine a worse week?!  I can!  Not because I have had one, but because as terrible as it may have gone for Peter, for Jesus it was infinitely worse. Gethsemane alone was wrenching, but the cross was beyond brutal.  The cross, the place where He bore the sins of all for all of time, was crucified, and paid the price for us with the shedding of His blood.  But after all His suffering and ultimate sacrifice, the sun broke on the morning of the first day of the next week and we find an empty tomb!  Christ had risen!

Just as salvation’s story did not end at the cross, Peter’s didn’t either.  Further study shows that our risen Savior restored Peter (note our last article), and he was used dramatically in God’s continuing work.  Peter, the impulsive failure became Peter who preached at Pentecost and about three thousand people were saved.  This brash failure honored God and ultimately wrote the wonderful books of I and II Peter.  Oh, what love! Oh, what a Savior! Oh, what grace!  If we only look at Peter’s failures, we miss what God ultimately did with his life.

My wife and I may never crest Pike’s Peak.  We may be too old, too weak and too out of shape (although we are improving).  But I trust we will die climbing whatever mountains of life the Lord has for us.  Peter’s remarkable story shows what the power of the risen Savior can do. He still had weaknesses and failed, but his life was dramatically used in the gospel story.  Maybe it is time for you and me to stop focusing on our failures and weaknesses and fulfill our God-given design. Peter’s story can be our story!




  1. Excellent !!

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