BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PROMISE

Bible Reading: John 13:36-39

Peter said to Him, “I will lay down my life for Your sake.” Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times” (John 13:37-38).

When Peter understood that Jesus was going to die, he impulsively spoke of laying down His own life for Jesus [v.37]. Scholars believe that Peter was the source of much of the material in Mark’s Gospel. Mark reports that Jesus told the disciples that they would all stumble because of Him, but Peter responded, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be” [Mark 14:29]. We don’t exactly know why Peter made this promise. Perhaps he could not bear the thought of life without the physical presence of Jesus, or maybe he wanted to support Him because he didn’t like the thought of Jesus dying alone. Whatever Peter’s reason was for making this promise, it was certainly a promise that he would not keep.

Peter’s rash promise was not in line with God’s will It was more a statement of self-reliance and pride in his own strength and ability. The Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall” [Proverbs 16:18] and “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom [Proverbs 11:2]. Peter’s self-reliance, which was really pride, led to both a fall and shame.

Jesus knew that Peter would not keep His promise, and told him that not only would he fail to keep his word, but that he would actually deny Him. The moment that Peter denied Jesus the third time the rooster would crow [v.38].

Later in his Gospel John records Peter’s denial of Jesus [John 18:15-27]. Luke adds that Jesus turned and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered, and went out and wept bitterly [Luke 22:61-62]. There must have been tremendous pain in the eyes of Jesus, and Peter was a broken man. Would Jesus ever accept him again? Hadn’t Jesus said, “He who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God” [Luke 12:9]? Peter would try and rebuild his life, going back to fishing, but Jesus would come and restore Him. When man promises something, wait and see, but when God promises something it will happen!

Questions:

Have you ever been asked about your faith and have avoided the question, and therefore directly or indirectly denied the Lord? How did that make you feel? How do you think that it might have hurt Jesus?

Why is it dangerous to make rash promises? What were the consequences of this for Simon Peter?

Have you ever made a promise to the Lord which you have failed to keep or only partially fulfilled? Do you think that God expects you to fulfil your promises to Him? How much is your word your bond?