From sand to rock

by Fr. Dana Jackson

John 13:36-38

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?”

Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall

follow Me afterward.”

Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for

Your sake.”

Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I

say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.

This conversation took place at the Last Supper. Jesus had just said He would be

with them a little while longer, and “Where I am going, you cannot come”. So

Peter naturally wanted to know where He was going, and wanted more than

anything else to follow Him whatever the destination. Peter’s heart longed to be

with Jesus.

Jesus was under no obligation to explain. He could have said simply, “You can’t”.

But He didn’t. He didn’t explain; instead predicting the coming reality that Peter

would deny Him – not just once, but three times.

Why did Jesus do that? Why would He add to Peter’s future humiliation from his

actual denial by foretelling it in advance, in front of all the disciples (who, as the

other Gospels tell us, acclaimed with Peter that they would never deny Him)?

In Luke’s account, we discover one additional, very important thing Jesus said to

Peter. “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he

may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail;

and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.’”

Jesus revealed to Peter his future failure not to condemn him but to strengthen

him. Their relationship – the Lord’s closeness to Peter – was no different after

Jesus’ prediction than it was before. Jesus knew Peter would fail … and now Peter

knew that Jesus knew … and it didn’t matter.

How many of us, if we knew one of our helpers would fail us in some task, would

suggest that they “stay behind”? No need for embarrassment, and no need to

bring along someone who would turn out to be worthless in the task. But that is


Jesus loved Peter. Jesus saw his heart. Though Peter’s flesh was weak and

shifting as sand, Jesus saw in Peter’s heart the future rock. And He knew the sand

could not be transformed into the rock without the crucible of trial and failure.

He also knew Peter could not do it alone, so He prayed that Peter’s faith – though

broken – would not fail.

Jesus called Peter, knowing he would fail. He made Peter part of His inner circle,

knowing he would fail. He took Peter to the mount of Transfiguration, knowing

he would fail. He washed Peter’s feet, knowing he would fail. He kept Peter close

in the garden that last night, knowing he would fail.

Take a good look at those around you, those you are leading or who are learning

to walk with the Lord by watching you. Maybe they’re your children, friends, a

home group, or perhaps a co-worker or two. Are you willing to invest in them,

knowing there will be times when they fail the Lord? Are you willing to pray for

them and work with them, even working through their failures (and your own)?

Can you see past the shifting sand to the future rock? Are you willing to commit

yourself to the Holy Spirit so that He can use you to help produce that


Are you listening?

Word of God: speak!

Non nobis Domine+

© 2020


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