Have you ever felt tired – so tired you don’t think you can keep your eyes open a moment longer? Have you ever felt angry? Confused? Lost? Unhappy? Frightened? Ready to quit whatever you’re doing because it’s too hard or too frustrating or too painful?
Of course you have.
We’re all human. We have human feelings and human limitations. We make mistakes. We make poor choices. We give up when we should hang on. We turn back when we should press on. We feel guilty and unworthy because of our failures and promise never to fail again. But we do fail again. And again. And again.
One of the most epic failures of all time is recorded in the Bible, not just once but four times. All four of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life tell the story of Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples and friends, denying repeatedly that he knew Jesus just when it seemed Jesus needed him the most.
“This man was with him.”
“Woman, I don’t know him.”
“You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!”
“Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
“Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
And then the rooster crowed.
I can imagine what Peter felt at that moment because I have been there myself, staring failure in the face. I may have never said in words “I don’t know Jesus,” but my actions often say it for me. When I’m angry or pouty about not getting my way, my actions say, “I don’t know Jesus.” When I’m frustrated and hopeless and say, “I can’t do this anymore,” I’m really saying, “I don’t know Jesus.” When I’m frightened by the daily news of violence and despair in the world, I’m saying, “I don’ know Jesus.” I’m acting as if I haven’t been forgiven of my own sins when I refuse to forgive others. I’m living without faith when I focus only on my strength and not on God’s. I’m denying the power and sovereignty of my Lord when I tremble before a world which seems out of control.
And then the rooster crows.
Peter felt great remorse when he realized that not only had he denied Jesus, but Jesus knew he would do so. “Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’” Peter felt defeated and unworthy and had trouble giving his heart fully to Jesus again. I get that, because I’ve felt that way myself. But that kind of thinking misses the point.
Jesus knows you will fail – but he loves you anyway.
Jesus knows you will deny him by the way you live – but he died for you anyway.
Jesus knows you will sometimes give up, turn back, fall short, and fall apart – but he calls you to do his work anyway. In his strength. With his grace. Trusting in his sovereignty.
So the next time you hear the rooster crow and you realize you have been living in a way that says, “I don’t know Jesus,” don’t think of it as the gong at the end of a boxing match saying, “You lost; you’re out.” Think of it as the alarm ringing at the beginning of a new day saying, “It’s time to get up; there’s still work to do.”
To help you live every day like you do know Jesus, please check out my newly released book, Standing Firm: Are You Ready for the Battle?
What is my mission as an author? It's a tough question, but I believe the goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they really believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.