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God’s Word for You

Luke 22:33-34 before the rooster crows

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, April 1, 2019

33 Peter replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny that you know me three times.”

Jesus had warned that the disciples, Peter in particular, would be sifted by Satan. Jesus even said to Peter, “When you have returned to me…” (verse 32), which means that Peter would leave; that he would flee. But rather than listen to his master’s warning, Peter actually contradicts Jesus. “Lord, I know best. You don’t know what you’re talking about. So listen to me,” Peter babbled and babbled, “I won’t ever leave you, whether to prison or to death!”

Sadly, Jesus had to bring forward another prophecy, this time about the immediate future, just hours away. Peter would deny his Savior three times before the crow of the rooster as night gave way to dawn. This prophecy and its fulfillment teach us not to rely on ourselves for strength, but to pray for strength as Peter should have.

The arrogant and wicked man thinks, “Nothing will shake me” (Psalm 10:6), but he is easily shaken. The humble Christian prays, “Do not rebuke me in your anger” (Psalm 6:1, 38:1). We know that we are weak and sinful. We know that we fall short of God’s glory and will. We run away as the Apostles ran. “In weakness they have fled before the pursuer” (Lamentations 1:6). We need to be brought back like runaway sheep. We need to be redeemed.

It is Christ who redeemed us. It is Christ who gives us strength. When we try to rely on our own strength and wisdom, we become the very hypocrites and fools that outsiders claim infest our churches. We plead to God for his mercy and forgiveness, and give him glory when he sees fit to proclaim these very things to us. He knows that we are weak. It is never man who can say, “I will never leave you, O God.” It is always God who promises: “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6,8; Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5). The wisdom of the Christian is to realize his own weakness. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Our weakness, our flight away from Jesus, our failures mounted upon failures; our daily catastrophes of hypocrisy and weakness… what do they add up to? They teach us the desperate need we have for mercy. When we are in trouble in this lifetime, we find ourselves at the mercy of kings and other rulers (Esther 4:8; Genesis 43:14). But when we are in trouble before God because of our sins, we cry out: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1). And God in his mercy has forgiven us. Why? Because we are any more attractive than every other sinner, or because the filth of our sins is any less noxious to him than anyone else’s? No. He is merciful to us because of something in him, not because of anything in us. He says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy” (Exodus 33:19). He gives us faith in Jesus, and on account of Jesus he is merciful to us. Praise him with your life today. His mercy endures forever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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