Falling in One Foot at a Time
Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
~ Matthew 26:74-75
Peter denied the Lord Jesus Christ, not once, but three times. This happened even after Jesus told him it would happen and Peter vehemently objected that it would happen. But it did.
If we look closely, we realize Peter’s failure was not an isolated act that happened suddenly in a moment. His denial was the culmination of a chain of events that were leading him to this point. Let’s follow the links of this chain.
- At the Mount of Olives, Jesus prophesied that all His disciples would be offended that night and flee. Peter was boasting and self-confident.
But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. ~ Mark 14:29
But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. ~ Mark 14:31
- In the garden, when he was supposed to be watching, he was sleeping.
And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? Couldest not thou watch one hour? ~ Mark 14:37
- When Jesus was taken to Caiaphas, Peter followed them at a distance so to see what would happen but not be associated with Him.
But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. ~ Matthew 26:58
- At the high priest’s palace, Peter chose to hide in plain sight and sat down with the enemies of Jesus at the fire.
And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself. ~ John 18:18
- Among these evil associates, Peter denied the Lord three times.
And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept. ~ Mark 14:66-72
This is often the way it is with sin. A great failure is the capstone of a building of many small blocks of failure. Jesus taught that outward acts of sin start with inward sins in the heart.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. ~ Matthew 5:27-28
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. ~ Matthew 12:34-35
This is why we are to mortify the deeds of the flesh. This is why we are to war against sin, even the sins that seem small and of little significance. Little gains and little victories will help keep us from the big failures.
We are often like the little boy whose mother tells him not to get wet. He starts by walking up to the edge of the water. He tosses a couple of rocks in. He tests it with his toes. He stirs it with a stick. He drops the stick in and, of course, he must retrieve it. His mother returns to find him splashing and wet from head to toe. The look on her face is enough accusation and he pleads, “But Mommy, I just fell in.” And so he did—he fell in one foot at a time.