Today marks the end of a holiday weekend where we take time to celebrate Thanksgiving. Often part of that celebration is sitting around a table together enjoying food and fellowship with those we love.
As with many of our holidays, the once simplified celebrations have become much commercialized. For many, Thanksgiving has become about “Black Friday” which now really begins on Thursday.
I am not here to criticize anyone who took advantage of the sales of black Friday, even if it was on Thursday, but what I do want to do is look at a parallel story in scripture.
I always struggle with that term “Black Friday”. Originally, this was used because it is the day many retailers finally move from the red to the black, or become profitable, because of the large amount of shopping for the upcoming Christmas Holiday.
However, when I hear the term “Black Friday”, it just sounds like a dark thing. Don’t you think it is interesting that another Friday that was a dark day for many is called “Good Friday”?
Indulge my play on words here for a moment, because I want to show you what a man named Peter did with his “Black Friday” that most call “Good Friday”. This is the place in the story, where if you were watching it on TV or at a movie, you would see the words flash across the screen “ABOUT ONE MONTH EARLIER”.
Who is this man named Peter? We first learn about Peter in Matthew 4:18-20:
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
We learn here that Peter was the first man Jesus called to follow Him. The Bible says that he and his brother IMMEDIATELY left their nets and followed Him, even though they didn’t know anything about Him.
This is the first clue we get about what kind of man Peter was.
1. He Was A Man Of Faith
We must use faith when we do not know the outcome. Peter shows here that he is willing to use his faith to follow Jesus. We read a few chapters later where Jesus named him the first of his twelve disciples and empowered him for ministry. (Matthew 10:1-2)
The next thing we learn about Peter is that he is:
2. A Risk Taker
A familiar story is found in Matthew 14:25-32 (NKJV)
Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
It is easy to criticize Peter for having this moment of weak faith and doubt, but I have always said it this way, “I WOULD RATHER BE A WET WATER WALKER THAN A DRY BOAT TALKER!!!”
Peter was testing his sea legs, he took the risk, and I am sure that his faith and his character were strengthened by it.
The next key scripture we read about Peter is found in Matthew 16:13-19 NKJV
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Jesus tells us the next characteristic of Peter he is:
3. A Rock
Again, we see here Peter is at the head of the class. Jesus asked the question and Peter is the one who spoke up! If you remember from the first passage we read, his name was Simon and Jesus called him Peter.
The word “Peter”, in Greek, means “a rock”. Christ gave it to Simon when he called him to be a disciple.
There are many different opinions of the interpretation of this passage, but let me tell you my personal thoughts. When asked who Jesus is, Peter says that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God…..Jesus is pleased with Peter’s response and tells him that he is blessed because this information has been REVEALED to him by His Father in heaven!
Basically, Jesus is saying that because Peter expressed His true character by calling Him the Son of God, He also, has given Peter a name expressive of his character. He called him Peter, a rock, denoting firmness, solidity, and stability.
Further, I believe Jesus is telling Peter that this REVEALED KNOWLEDGE OF WHO HE IS COMES WITH MUCH AUTHORITY!
Peter’s learning curve continues just a few verses later in Matthew 16:21-23.
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Here we see the next characteristic of Peter.
4. He Was A Passionate Man
The definition of passionate is, “capable of, affected by, or expressing intense feelings.” Peter clearly shows in this passage that he is capable of intense emotion, he shows he was dramatically affected by what Jesus described that was going to happen to Him, and he was intense in expressing those feelings!
Peter was a passionate man. He had left everything to follow Jesus. He recognized Him as the Son of God, I am sure he did not expect that the Son of God would suffer and die! I am sure Peter could not bear to think of Jesus’ death, He most likely expected a triumphant Messiah and couldn’t imagine how death fit in that plan.
Has your passion ever gotten you into trouble? Mine has. There have been times I have felt so passionate about something at work that I just didn’t know when to be quiet. It could be perceived here that Peter was in trouble with Jesus for expressing his passion.
For many, this would have been a good quitting place. A place to get disillusioned and to stop being part of the Jesus team! Not Peter. He didn’t quit; he received the rebuke from his Master. He had to learn that his passion was in opposition to the master plan of salvation for all of us. He learned submission and continued with fervency.
In fact, we read that six days later he took that same kind of passion up on the mount of transfiguration. You can read about it in Matthew 17:1-8. Peter wanted to stay in that place of God’s presence and passionately expressed this desire.
You just have to love Peter. He tries so hard! We have already seen he isn’t afraid to move in faith, to be a risk taker, and to express his passion. He is trying to get it right this time. He says to the Lord, “It is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
Peter recognized that this was a place in God’s presence he had never experienced before….it was a good place! What he still had to learn is there is always purpose for the presence. They would need this experience in the coming days. Furthermore, if they had stayed there, not only would their purpose not have been fulfilled, but also the boy at the foot of that mountain would never have been healed.
This is the place in the story where we began before going back and looking at the previous month’s activities. Now we find Peter is sitting with Jesus and all the disciples as they celebrate a Passover meal, much like we sat around tables in the last few days with our loved ones celebrating Thanksgiving.
Scripture tells us that they ate, they sang a hymn, and then left for the Mount of Olives. Just as Black Friday began on Thursday this year, this was the beginning of Peter’s Black Friday.
Let’s pick up reading the story from here.
Matthew 26:31-35 NKJV
Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
If you keep reading, you see where Jesus led them to Gethsemane. Again, just like at the mount of transfiguration, he only took His three closest with him, this time asking them to join Him in prayer. Peter was the first he asked. If you know the story, it is in this garden that Jesus is arrested and taken away to face his accusers
Now let’s read about Peter’s “Black Friday”
Matthew 26:69-75 NKJV
Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.” And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.
We have learned that Peter is:
- A Man of Faith
- A Risk Taker
- A Rock
- A Passionate Man
But now we see that He is:
5. A FAILURE!
This is the place in the story where we ask the question we began with….
“WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH BLACK FRIDAY?”
“What will you do with that moment of failure?”
The one thing I am confident of is that each of us have all had times in our life where we felt like a failure. Maybe you started as a man or woman of faith, but a situation came in your life that caused you to lose hope/lose your footing/ and your faith failed.
Maybe you were the risk taker….you were the one willing to step out of the boat against all odds only to lose sight of the goal and sink ending in failure.
Perhaps you are the one who is always a rock, your stable, your fixed, your tenacious, yet that one situation caused your rock to crumble ending in failure.
Possibly, you are the passionate one. The one who is capable of expressing intense feelings and because of your intense passion, a season of failure hits you the hardest.
You can put your own name on “Black Friday” it comes in many forms. It could be a personal failure, but it could also be a major trial. Maybe a family issue, maybe a health concern, the list goes on.
THE QUESTION IS, “WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH YOUR BLACK FRIDAY?”
Let’s go back and look at what Peter did with his. Maybe you have heard the phrase, “It may feel like Friday night, but Sunday is on the way!” Jesus died on Friday but He arose on Sunday, which afforded us the opportunity to make every failure a victory.
Not long after Jesus’ resurrection, we read where he was meeting with His disciples for breakfast…
So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. (John 21:15-18 NKJV)
I may not have any Bible scholars see this passage the way I do, but let me tell you what I see….
First, I think it is interesting that Jesus called him Simon. He had named him Peter that means “Rock” yet here for the first time that I know of, He goes back to his given name Simon. I personally believe that Jesus knew how Peter was feeling. He knew that he felt like such a failure and didn’t deserve the name given to him by Jesus at that moment. He knew Peter didn’t feel like a rock and He was reaching out to him in his current state of despair.
The second thing that stands out to me is the fact that Jesus asked Peter the same question three times. “Do you love me?” I believe He purposefully did that because he was giving Peter the opportunity to “feel” forgiven for ALL three times he denied Him!
Now we see that Peter has a new characteristic.
6. Peter is Forgiven!
The third thing I see from this passage is Jesus’ response to Peter each time. He tells him to feed and tend to My sheep. To me, this speaks of Peter’s purpose. He was the first man Jesus called to follow Him. He had a plan for Peter’s life. He wanted to take this man’s faith, his ability to be a risk taker, his stability, and his passion and turn him into a mighty minister to spread the gospel.
BUT FIRST, HE HAD TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO WITH HIS BLACK FRIDAY!
Would he let this failure, this disappointment, this difficult day be the end of his purpose or would he allow this black day to propel him into his intended future?
If you know Scripture, you know the answer to this question. After Jesus ascended to heaven it was Peter who preached an amazing sermon. Take the time to read it in Acts 2:14-41. There were over 3000 people saved that day!
Now we see the last characteristic of Peter, he is:
7. An Overcomer!
You can continue to read in the book of Acts where he was used by God to perform many miracles, he ministered to the Gentiles, he was imprisoned and delivered, and he wrote two of the books of the Bible!
So what did Peter do with his “Black Friday”? He allowed a day of great disappointment, great disillusionment, and great failure to propel him into his divine destiny.
It isn’t all about falling; it is about getting back up. So the question I have for each of you today is, “What will you do with your “Black Friday”?