In my youth, I was never much of a reader. But now, in this season of my life, I have found great enjoyment in reading. Whatever I read, whether it is Christian based or not, I always sift it through the Word of God. Recently, I read a book called Fresh Air by Chris Hodges. This book taught me the importance of allowing God, through the Holy Spirit, to breathe fresh air into our lives. In chapter thirteen, titled A Friend Like No Other, Chris Hodges shares the Holy Ghost Story of the “fresh air” that the Holy Spirit breathes into our lives. Chris explains that Peter, being a disciple, was close to Jesus and his friend. Peter should’ve known Jesus better than most. But when Jesus was arrested and on trial before the Jewish leaders, Peter failed to live us to his own words. What I took away from this amazing book is how often we think we know something when in all actuality we don’t. I began thinking, I guess “you don’t know until you know.”
I love asking my children stuff that may seem ridiculous to ask a child – but they offer such great insight. One day I was sitting on the couch with my seven year old daughter, Ella. I wondered if she could shed some light on that thought that had been circling around in my head … “You don’t know until you know.” So I asked Ella what she thought that means. She rolls her eyes at me with her face that says dad don’t you know that I’m just a kid and replies, “Uh, I don’t know.” Well there you go folks, it’s true, “You don’t know until you know.” Now, I didn’t stop there. I went on to ask Ella if she knew how to do a back handspring, something she’s really wanting to be able to do. Ella says, “Oh yes, Daddy, I know that.” But when I asked her to show me, she told me I can’t do it but I can tell you how. She went on to describe, in detail, all the steps to do a back handspring. That got me thinking that knowing and doing are two different things. That’s something we all have to learn and Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, is a good example of that. He thought he would never leave Jesus or turn away from Him.
Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” “But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. The story goes on to tell us that Peter followed the Jewish leaders to where they had taken Jesus. And as Peter is sitting in the courtyard watching, a servant girl approached Peter and said, “you were also with Jesus of Galilee.” But he denied it before all, saying I don’t know what you’re talking about. Then a second servant girl saw Peter and said to the people there, “this fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Peter denied Jesus a second time, saying I know not the man. Peter was approached a third and final time those who were standing near saying, “Surely you are one of them meaning the twelve disciples, your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and swore at them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately the rooster crowd. Matthew 26: 69-74
Many of us like to believe that we would respond favorably under pressure, especially when other people are watching us. But the truth is, you don’t know how you will respond, until you come face to face with a difficult situation. Matthew chapter 26 captures Peter at a moment in time when his faith was weak. Even though Jesus had told his disciples, on more then one occasion, that He would be crucified they were faced with the dire truth of Jesus’s impending death. No doubt, their self-preservation kicked into overdrive. If you had asked Peter did he think it was possible for him to deny Jesus, surely Peter would have said, No! But now that Peter has been through this “you don’t know until you know” experience, Peter’s perspective about himself has probably changed.
In sharing this, I hope you have not focused on Peter’s shortcomings. What we see in this Biblical account is the humanity of Peter. I think we can all relate to experiences where we have done something we thought we’d never do and we wish we never had. You don’t know what you will think about something, how you would feel about something, how you will react to something, what you will do about something until you’re actually in it. Then, you’ll know. I pray that you will be encouraged and not allow your shortcomings to prevent you from becoming what Jesus intends you to be.
I found great encouragement in the book Fresh Air because I was reminded of the great gift we have in the Holy Spirit. We are human. But as believers, we have the living breath of the Holy Spirit to breathe forgiveness over us and wisdom into us. Because of that, we have great joy and freedom when we finally … know!