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Peter’s 3’s

Numbers are important in Scripture. The numbers 3, 7, 10 and 12 indicate completeness. Most of us who have read the Gospels, remember the 3 times Peter denied Christ after His arrest, even as Jesus was defending his own identity to the authorities. And this was after Peter swore he would follow Jesus anywhere.

Peter told him, “Even if everyone falls away because of you, I will never fall away.” (Matthew 26:33)

And many of us also remember when Jesus restored Peter on the shore in (John 21:15-19). He asked Peter if he loved him, not once but 3 times. And each time Peter was told to “feed My sheep”.

Photo by Dave Herring on Unsplash

When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? ” “Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “you know that I love you.” “Feed my lambs,” he told him. A second time he asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me? ” “Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “you know that I love you.” “Shepherd my sheep,” he told him. He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me? ” Peter was grieved that he asked him the third time, “Do you love me? ” He said, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” “Feed my sheep,” Jesus said. “Truly I tell you, when you were younger, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to indicate by what kind of death Peter would glorify God. After saying this, he told him, “Follow me.” (John 21:15-19)

But I have never connected these 3’s to what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane the night Jesus was arrested. Take a look at Matthew 26:36-46.

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Peter, James and John were in the garden with Jesus. All Jesus asked of them was to stay alert and pray. Three times Jesus found them sleeping while He was in agony over what was about to happen.

This was one of Peter’s 3’s that I never noticed before until my pastor mentioned it in His sermon the week before Easter. I can’t help but wonder if it indicates Peter completely denied Jesus, and completely failed to keep watch with Jesus in the garden, and finally was completely restored and called to serve completely the risen Lord!

In my own life, I’ve denied Jesus, more than 3 times. I’ve failed to watch and pray when He has asked me to be diligent, more than 3 times. And yet He has forgiven and then set me on a course of obedience to serve Him, over and over.

How about you? Do you think you are beyond God’s ability to use you for Kingdom work because of something you have done, or not done and should have? Peter said that Jesus was the Messiah, yet He denied Him when things got tough.

But the beauty of repentance and obedience is that God will use even our failures to make us stronger in our faith. And He will use it to “feed His sheep” as we tell of Christ’s love and salvation, and as we disciple other believers.

It’s never too late and we are never beyond the ability of Jesus to restore and use us for His glory! Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Banner photo by Tony Hand on Unsplash

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