We forget He already knows the end of the story. We forget He wrote it before He breathed that first puff of Life into Adam’s lungs. From Eden, to Sinai, to The Upper Room, and all the way to the cross, not once was there a surprise. God has been revealing His Gospel from the very beginning. We see a corded rope woven throughout history, linking generation to generation, revealing His grace. On this Good Friday, will you settle in with me in two places? First at Mt. Sinai, and second at the Mount of Olives. There’s a treasure to be found in both places.
Oh Peter and all his flaws. I love him for his fire, but no one in scripture makes me cringe quite like Peter. I see myself in his humanness, and I know that’s the point. But through Peter’s life, I can also see God smiling in heaven. I can see a full circle revelation being made that began all the way back with the Israelites on the road leaving Egypt.
Moses came down from Sinai with God’s requirements, with His Law written in stone, and a sacred promise for all the people if they kept His covenant.
“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
God said “if”. If you obey me fully and keep my covenant. That word “if” terrifies me, and also brings great relief that I was not an Israelite standing at the base of that mountain hearing those words. Though the promise was beautiful, the conditions impossible; and once more we see our great need for the cross. But it’s the response of the Israelites I want us to notice. Their response will be echoed in the hearts of every man at some point in each life lived, and Peter will be no exception. Collectively, between the 19th and 24th chapters of Exodus, the Israelites responded three times promising, “We will do everything the Lord has said.”
Maybe they meant it. Maybe we mean it when we make the same promises. Or maybe it was nothing but pride speaking. Pride has reigned from my lips and actions more times than I care to admit. Regardless of what motivated their response (or ours today), there are three nonnegotiable truths we see here at Sinai: The Israelites promised to keep The Law, God knew they wouldn’t, and He entered into covenant with them anyways.
Now walk up the narrow hallway with me to the Upper Room. Jesus is teaching His men a New Covenant, and this time He will write it on their hearts instead of stone. What a sacred moment! And yet He follows this merciful revelation with a tragic prediction:
“This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ “
And Peter. Fiery, determined, meaning well but falling short, just like you and me, Peter, answers, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“I never will.”
Can you hear the same voice of the Israelites in that response? Can you hear your voice in that response? “I never will Lord!” “I promise I will do all that you have asked!” We all have that same heart as Adam. Each one of us. But please don’t miss the reality that He has always known you wouldn’t be faithful! And that is both tragic and beautiful at the same time. Because He went to the cross anyways, He went to the cross because He has always known we would not be faithful.
Jesus responds to Peter:
“I tell you the truth, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
Three times did the Israelites promise to obey God, and He chose to enter into covenant with them anyways, knowing they wouldn’t keep it. Three times did Peter disown his Friend and Redeemer, but Jesus knowing all of it in advance, chose to go to the cross anyways.
He came because He knew it was the only way. He came because we are all like the Israelites, we are all like Peter, and so He willingly stretched out His arms and bled to cover all of it.
Do you remember the promise made back at Sinai? If the Israelites would keep God’s commandments, they would be for Him a treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. What a glorious privilege they had before them. God would have been just to deny them the privilege. And as Peter denied Christ for the third time and heard the rooster crow, God would have been just to also disown him, but instead He came back for His beloved and called him “friend” (John 21:5). What was offered by God at Sinai in the Old Testament, is made possible in the New through Christ. From the same lips of a once denying disciple, God connects the Old with the New:
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9
Only Jesus can do that. He made a way for you and me, despite ourselves. This Good Friday is a sobering reality of our own betrayal. We stand alongside Peter in our own sin, traitors. He knew even before the foundations of the earth that we would betray Him, but He came anyways. He came to make you a royal priesthood and a holy nation, a child belonging to Him. So we will endure this Friday and offer up our confessions, because the promise of Sunday is coming. And this girl whose been made holy, is excited to declare the praises of Him who has called her out of darkness and into His wonderful light. Happy Easter. And get ready to shout, “He is risen!” For He has done great things!