When Peter Wept

Saint Peter weeping (1620 – 1630). Oil on canvas.

Peter had been probably the most confident and outspoken of all the disciples. We see him offering to come to Jesus when he was walking on water while other disciples were afraid (Matthew 14:28). We note his inspired confession of Jesus’s Messiahship and heavenly origin (Mathew 16:16). He was also so certain he would remain loyal that he confidently claimed nothing could make him desert Christ (Luke 22:33).

How little he knew himself!

And how much like him we often are.

It is no wonder God spoke of the human heart being so deceptive (Jeremiah 17:9). Often we think we know ourselves, but trials and hardship tend to uncover the true condition of our souls. They remove the false premises on which we live and confront us with who we really are.

We can boast of our plans and aspirations. However, as James remind us, none of us is in control of his or her life (James 4:13-16). The horse is set for battle yet safety is of the Lord (cf. Proverbs 21:31). We can do nothing unless God helps us. This is not to deny human responsibility but to uphold God’s sovereignty. In all things, including our thoughts, plans, and desires, he has the absolute authority.

This is why a false theology, such as Peter represents and many embrace today, is harmful. It wrongly tells a person that they can trust in Christ or hold on to him by their own will. It claims that faith is something every person is capable of. It fails to see that faith itself is God’s gift (2 Peter 1:1; Philippians 1:29; Ephesians 2:8-9) . And the ability to truly depend on God actually comes from above.

Peter realized this, just after his boast failed. He came to see that he needed God more than he thought. And this would change him.

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