Every year before the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), we go through some form of testing. If Yeshua was the ultimate sacrifice, we must ask ourselves what His test looked like. They started with the wilderness and a 40 day fast. His identity is tested but He overcomes and begins His ministry with great power. Later, Yeshua is tested more than any human has every been. He knows He is a lamb. He knows what happens to sacrificial lambs. He says, “Take this cup, Father! But not my will but thine be done.” While he cries out, sweats blood, and pleads for prayer, his disciples sleep. They are exhausted from what is happening. After Yeshua is arrested, his familiar friends scatter and leave him at his darkest hour.
David expresses the thoughts of his trials, his sins, and his enemies repeatedly. Sometimes his words seem to be our Messiah’s words hidden in riddles.
“I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against You.” My enemies say with malice: “When will he die and be forgotten?” My visitor speaks falsehood; he gathers slander in his heart; he goes out and spreads it abroad. All who hate me whisper against me; they imagine the worst for me: “A vile disease has been poured into him; he will never get up or rise again from where he lies!” Even my close friend, whom I trusted, the one who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:4-9).
David’s words are so poignant we feel them. They strike our hearts as we relate to his agony. We wonder how at times, David knows our most personal sufferings. He talks about sickness, disease, betrayal, and enemies that outnumber the hairs on his head. Can you hear the Messiah in this Psalms? “He will never rise again.” Thankfully, we know He did. But what does testing look like at its deepest level? In Psalm 22 through the song of David, if we bend our ear, we can hear and see the one who stood naked before the world:
I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me–
they sneer and shake their heads:
“He trusts in the LORD, let the LORD deliver him; let the LORD rescue him, since He delights in him.”
–they have pierced my hands and feet.
–I can count all my bones
–they stare and gloat over me.
–-They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
How do we learn the price Yeshua paid if we do not try on His sandals a time or two. While slipping on His sandals, we thank those who reject, hurt, mock, and betray us because suddenly we feel closer to our Redeemer. We see him standing naked with his beard plucked, a beaten bloody mess of a man who does not appear human. Our messiah does not hold grudges. He says, “forgive them Father for they know not what they do,” and most of the time, we don’t know. We are unaware that we are hurting others or crucifying the Son of Yah over again.
We hold up mirrors. We check our hearts. We think our hearts are good. We shout boldly that we will never deny our Messiah, and then in a weakened moment, we act worse than Peter. We proclaim we have faith and take our eyes off him and sink. We calculate the sins of everyone around us but our own. But how can we mature and know what to expect before the test happens? What happens when we fail the testing? Peter was much humbler after failing his test. Failing a test can be life-changing. It can be the icing on the cake. The anointing comes from the crushing.
Take a stroll with me to the courtyard. Let’s look at Peter closely as he is watching this scene unfold:
“And they spat in Yeshua’s face, and they were beating his head. But others were striking him And were saying, “Prophesy to us, Messiah; who is it that hits you?” Matthew 26:67-68).
Peter is in the courtyard. He has sworn that he will never deny Yeshua. He has even placed his life on the line. BUT, Peter does not pass the test.
The same tests keep being presented. Peter is oblivious that he is right now sitting in “court,” yes, the court is in session, and he is on the bench. Just hours before this moment, Peter is speaking with a great boast. He is telling the Messiah he will die with him if he has to.
“Yeshua, you got the wrong guy. I’m not your man. It must be Judas or Simeon.
I could never deny you. No way. Not in a million years!!”
“Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” 34″Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” 35But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.”
While in the court area, Peter is called out by the Little maidservants. Below in brackets, I have written the text from the Holy Scriptures. Run your eyes carefully over the bolded text.
But Kaypha had sat outside in the courtyard, and a maidservant came near him, and she said to him, “You also were with Yeshua the Nazarene.” 70But he denied before all of them, and he said, “I do not know what you are saying.” 71And when he went out to the porch (Gate), another Maidservant saw him, and she said to them who were there, “This one also was there with Yeshua the Nazarene.” 72And again, he denied with an oath, “I do not know the man.” 73After a bit, those standing there came, and they said to Kaypha, “Certainly, you also are one of them, for your speech reveals you.” 74And he began to curse and to swear (Take an irrevocable vow of destruction), “I do not know the man,” (I do not know the man of clay) and at that moment, a cock crowed. 75And Kaypha remembered the word of Yeshua that he had told him, “Before a cock will crow three times, you will deny me”; and going forth outside, he wept bitterly.
We notice Peter denied with an oath at the gate. Yeshua is the gate. He is the door. He is the Good Shepherd. Peter denies with an irrevocable, unchangeable, binding vow of destruction–Meditate on that. How soon he has forgotten his other oath to Messiah. The one where he proclaimed he would die before betraying him. Dying is the key, but Peter is scared to die. People today are scared of getting sick and dying. People are afraid of death in general whether physical or spiritual. Life comes after death. Peter thought he was mature enough and that he loved Yeshua so much that he would die for Him, but when the rubber hit the road, and the petal hit the metal, he did the opposite of what he thought was in his heart.
Our actions speak louder than our inflated egos.
The good news? Feed my sheep. Feed my lambs. Care for my flock. Yeshua has forgiven Peter, and he still has faith in him to be a great Shepherd, and Yeshua knows that Peter will never deny him now. Can you see the eyes of Messiah looking at Peter after what he did and asking him, “Do you love me Peter?” Oh, how to answer this after what Peter had done. “You know I do.” Then feed my sheep.
This colossal epic failure of a test is what makes Peter become humble and ready to die for the sake of the gospel. And die he did, Peter was crucified upside down.
We must feel what our Messiah felt. We fellowship in His sufferings. We forgive those who hurt us, and hopefully, they forgive us.
Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Photo by Bill Oxford–Unsplash