By Pastor Bud Talbert
I was blessed by my meditation on four passages pointed out by Dr. Victor Hamilton in his Handbook on the Pentateuch. The first, in chronological order, is found in Matthew 16 where Jesus first announces that He will go to Jerusalem and die at the hands of the Jews. It is the Spring or Summer of AD 29, about 2.5 years into Jesus’ 3.5-year ministry. Peter’s response to this announcement is in verse 22: “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus’ response to Peter is direct: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
In the next passage, John 13, we move about one year ahead to the Passion Week of AD 30. Instead of being in northern Galilee as in the last situation, we are in Jerusalem in the Upper Room. Jesus begins to wash the disciple’s feet, but when He comes to Peter, what happened? Peter says, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus replies, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with Me.”
The next occasion is actually later the same night in Matthew 26. Jesus prophesies to the disciples, “You will all be caught by unexpected circumstances tonight (i.e. Judas is bringing soldiers to arrest Jesus in the garden), and out of fear you will abandon Me.” In the ESV it reads, “You will all fall away (skandalizomai) because of Me this night.” Peter replies, “Though they all fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” Remember Jesus’ response? “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”
The last “Never Statement” of Peter’s is connected with the salvation of Cornelius’ household in Acts 10, more than ten years after the last one. Peter is praying at noon on the roof of Simon the Tanner’s house (Acts 10:9). Peter experiences a vision from God in which “something like a great sheet” containing unclean animals was let down before him, while God commanded, “Rise Peter. Kill and eat” (verse 13). But Peter responded, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” Do you remember God’s response this time? “What God has made clean, do not call common.”
“You will never be crucified!” “You will never wash my feet!” “I will never deny You!” “I have never eaten anything unlawful!” Each a tacit rejection of God’s Word. Each an evidence of self-confident unteachableness and ignorance of personal sinfulness. Each graciously corrected by God.