From The Second Half of the Cross
Another important lesson can be learned from this inspired biblical episode in the life of Peter. When we are operating according to our own plans and thinking, the glory of God is nowhere in sight. Peter completely falls on his face in the courtyard of Caiaphas, because his plan to protect Jesus from physical harm is clearly off-track from God’s eternal plan of salvation for mankind. But when we are operating within the will of God, God glorifies Himself in and through us.
When questioned by the Sanhedrin council about the miraculous healing of the crippled man, Peter immediately assigns the credit toward Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit glory of God on Peter and John boldly uplifts Jesus as the promised Messiah before these worldly powerful men. God glorifies Himself in and through these two disciples, to the potential benefit of everyone present.
The unselfish love and pure righteousness of the glory of God transforms the miraculously healed man, emboldens Peter and John, further unfolds the truth about the identity of Jesus the Son of God hopefully to some open-minded members of the Sanhedrin, and blesses and instructs countless millions of people down through the ensuing centuries, reading this inspired account of the defense of the Christian faith at the dawning of the first century church. The contrast between this God-composed and orchestrated event, and the earlier failed testimony of Peter in the courtyard of Caiaphas, is staggering.
In our fallen condition of thinking, we cannot imagine that God would actually be way ahead of us regarding the ultimate outcomes we think are important in life. After all, we think, how could “God” understand us? Venturing out into a walk of faith, it is difficult for us to believe that at the end of the road, and at critical milestone junctures along the way, that an eternally ancient God could have an insider’s up-to-date viewpoint and actually come through with the unexpectedly brilliant, imaginative right answers.
For example, do we really believe that in a life lived with God, that the “good guy does not actually finish last?” Do we really believe that God-inspired faith, compassion, mercy, and kindness win-out in the end over self-assertive competitiveness and aggressive self-seeking to “get ahead” in this world? We must be honest with ourselves. God is not fooled. He knows our thoughts.
It would come as a surprise and a shock to most of us to discover that the God of the Bible is infinitely more savvy and “with-it” than we think, regarding the innermost desires and longings of our hearts. It simply does not register with most of us that someone other than ourselves, especially a holy and perfect God, would actually know more about life, love, and true character, as they relate to our individual lives specifically, and on a higher level that is way above what we can imagine.
But this is exactly what Peter discovered when he first saw and spoke with the risen Jesus on Resurrection Day. By all outward appearances, the Pharisees and scribes had their way with Jesus. The Roman authorities crucified Him. Peter was right about the bad consequences of Jesus falling into the wrong hands. But when Peter saw the gloriously restored body of Jesus, he grasped the concept of the blood atonement for sin engrained in the Jewish religion given by God to the Israelites going back to the beginning of the Old Testament.
Peter realized in a bright flash of spiritual understanding that God all along knew better than Peter could possibly have imagined. It came as an enormous, life-altering relief for Peter to discover that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit had it all figured out, from eternity past, regarding the cross and the resurrection, and that Peter’s denial of Jesus in the courtyard had no bearing whatsoever on the ultimate outcome. In the new world of reality where Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, Peter no longer had to be afraid of anything or anyone, even the heretofore intimidating members of the Sanhedrin.
The end of the spiritual road for Jesus Christ, while living as a human being on this earth, was a smashing victory over evil, in all of the contested areas of character and truth, yet in the most admirably understated and self-effacing way imaginable in keeping within God’s nature.
The surprising pay-off at the end of being crucified and buried for dead, seemingly in humiliating defeat, was a massively positive outcome orchestrated by God the Father, which Peter could not and did not foresee when he announced beforehand that he would not allow Jesus to be captured by His enemies, nor forsake Jesus under any circumstances (Mt. 26:33). The cross and the resurrection revealed the right way to live, from a humanly unexpected direction.
This is the supernatural aspect of the transformation that Peter experienced in his fall in the courtyard of Caiaphas, and his subsequent glorious recovery upon seeing Jesus during his individual and very personal interview with Jesus on Resurrection Day (Lk. 24:34). The passing glance that Jesus gave to Peter in the courtyard of Caiaphas (Lk. 22:61), pierced the very soul of Peter, and the gospel account records that Peter then went out and wept bitterly. But when Jesus looked into the eyes of Peter on Resurrection Day, not only did this look contain loving forgiveness, but also the confident look of someone who knew all along the ultimate outcome of events.
When Jesus said to Peter “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Lk. 22:32), Jesus was not referring to Peter’s upcoming utter failure in the courtyard of Caiaphas, but in the hope that Peter would not completely lose faith in the ability of Jesus to overturn His crucifixion and burial into the resurrection He spoke about a few days earlier, despite the overwhelming negative outward appearances.
When Jesus shows the disciples His nail pierced hands and feet, and His spear pierced side, it is as much to say: “Look and see…I am God and one with the Father…We always knew what We were doing and that victory was at the end of my road leading to Calvary.” This incredible turnaround discovery for Peter transformed him into a fearless and powerful witness to the resurrection of Jesus for the rest of his life.
At critical points along the journey of faith in a Christian life, and at the final end of the road, lies the discovery that God is and was way out in front of us as to what is eternally important and fulfilling for our lives here on earth. God really does know better than we do. One of the scriptural lessons of the resurrection of Christ that is so beautifully illustrated in the transformation of Peter, from his precipitous fall in the courtyard of Caiaphas to his full recovery on the Day of Pentecost, is that in the adventure of a walk of faith with Jesus Christ, God sees to it that in the end the good guy does not finish last.