Failing Our Lord

And Peter remembered the word
of Jesus who had said to him,
“Before the rooster crows,
you will deny Me three times.”
And he went out and wept bitterly.</em
Matthew 27:75

It seems strange that we associate Peter, especially, with having failed the Lord. When Jesus was being seized, Peter drew his sword and struck out to defend Him. The disciples ‘forsook Him and fled’ but Peter followed the Lord to the house of the high priest and tried to stay as close as he could… Yet Peter was unable to live up to his vow, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny You!”

One of the things we easily forget when we feel failure in our spiritual life, is that it’s our own sense of what is good and true that causes us to feel that way. We wouldn’t feel remorse unless we wanted a different outcome and unless we were striving for it! The Writings for the New Church teach that bad people don’t face real spiritual struggles. We only experience spiritual struggles when ‘the truths of faith, which we believe in our hearts and according to which we love to live, are assaulted within us, especially when the good of love, in which we place our spiritual life, is assaulted.’ (cf. New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 196)

The Lord never blames us for failing. ‘Since the Lord is mercy itself, He forgives all people their sins, nor does He impute a single sin to anyone, for He says, “They know not what they do.”’ (True Christian Religion 539) He doesn’t frown on us. He doesn’t withhold favour for even one instant! He stands completely ready to give us His blessing anew.

The Lord’s only pleasure is when we receive Him – when we receive His goodness in our hearts and His truth in our minds, when we live caring and useful lives from these gifts. He takes no pleasure in our remorse or in our preoccupation with our many sins and inadequacies. The only use of these bad feelings is when they lead us to humbly recognise that the Lord alone is good and wise, that we must put our trust in Him, that He alone can accomplish worthwhile things through us. And, we make new efforts to live in this realisation.

So the Lord did not fault Peter for denying Him. Peter wouldn’t have denied Him unless he had been following the Lord. Peter’s bitter sorrow – at his own lack of strength, at his inability to do what he said he would do, at his letting down his beloved Master – was transformed within three days into a new confidence in his Lord’s boundless strength, steadfastness and love! As the Lord had told Peter and the others on the night they forsook Him: “Your sorrow will be turned into joy.” – John 16:20

This transformation with Peter, and with every human being, is the end-in-view that our Lord saw in suffering death to rise again on Easter morning. May we turn to Him with renewed trust and gratitude this Easter.