But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
Peter of course did deny Jesus three times. The rooster did crow. Peter, who was so confident in his loyalty, wept bitterly. The truth of his own denial of Christ was painful. Before that moment, however, there was evidence of his frailty. Jesus and his disciples went to Gethsemane to pray. Jesus was deeply distressed the cross was looming. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” (Mark 14:34)
When Jesus returns from prayer He finds His disciples sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” This happened two more times. Immediately following the third time, Jesus was arrested and led off to be crucified.
For Peter and the others, their spirits were willing, but their flesh was weak. This is the same underlying principle in Peter’s denial. His spirit was willing! He followed Jesus all the way to the High Priest’s courtyard. None of the other disciples did that! It’s likely you could hear from the courtyard at least the tenor of the proceedings. When accusers would raise their voice, you could make out their tones. If not, Peter was close enough to get reports about what was going on inside with Jesus. His spirit was willing… but when asked about his knowing Jesus, his flesh was weak. He denied knowing Jesus. The sound of the rooster must have been a shrill in Peter’s ears. Painful. He had denied even knowing Christ.
In the many ways that I deny Christ, this same principle is often at work. My spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. The rooster crows and I’m faced with my frailty. What do I do in these moments? Weep? Absolutely. I should also grow from the experience.
Paul wrote about his own frailty in Romans 7. He also wrote about training his flesh to submit to his spirit. This is what the follower of Jesus must do!
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
The spirit is willing but the body is weak… so we train ourselves toward godliness. The spirit will dictate to the flesh, not vice versa! And because the Spirit of God has taken up residence in the disciple, this is absolutely possible! God’s power is on display through frail human beings. We’re not so great… but He is!
Father, You are great! I honor You today as the One who deserves my worship. Thank You for Your Presence in my life today. You have brought victory of sin and death to me. Thank You! You are awesome, powerful and Most High! My prayer is that You would be seen through my life today.