Moses was Israel's representative before God. A man of valor and integrity, chosen by God to enact His plans. He was (mostly) obedient, loving the Lord with all of his actions. He had a troubled and plagued past, but God still used him mightily. He led God's people as God led him. But what started out as a strong relationship with God did not end as such. Numbers 20:8-11 tells of the downfall of Moses as he didn't trust and honor the Lord and His instruction. In a moment of pride and fleshliness, Moses sinned against God in such a way that God could not and would not permit him to enter into the Promised Land. The gift that God had promised to Israel would not be a gift that Moses was eligible to receive. He would not step into the land flowing with milk and honey.
David was a small shepherd boy when he was called by God to defeat a literal giant. He was the youngest boy of his family, not coming from a lineage of noble means. Even still, he slayed the giant and would come to be crowned as king of God's people. He was promised that the Messiah would sprout from his family tree, he penned most of the psalms that Israel sang in worship. He conquered great nations in spite of his small armies. But he fell into sin, committing adultery, murder, and acts of defiant pride. The one who is called a "man after God's own heart" would give into temptation. He would sin, just like Moses, and because of the wars that were waged and the blood that was shed by his hands, he wouldn't be allowed by God build His temple, the resting place of the ark of the covenant (1 Chronicles 28:3). He wouldn't be afforded the privilege of building God's dwelling place. Despite the great things he did for the Lord, he still transgressed in many grievous ways.
In contrast, Peter would deny the Lord 3 times, challenging Christ's own words. He would act disloyally and erratically. He would sink into the sea out of faithlessness, despite the fact that moments prior he had been upheld by the Christ and successfully traversed the waters. Strangely enough, upon this
rock Jesus would build His church. The man that had once distressed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, would soon after be commissioned by God to share the Gospel and the build the very church, the universal body of believers, that still exists today.
I relate to Peter. I relate to the ease with which he slipped into faithlessness. In one moment he was willing to brutalize the soldiers who seized Jesus, and in the next he was running away, naked and fearful, while denying that he knew the man he fought for at all. I relate to Peter when he, though upheld by the God-man who had performed miracles at his side, doubted that Jesus really could keep his feet from sinking into the watery depths. I relate to Peter more than I'm proud to say, but the most encouraging thing about this relation is that Peter didn't remain as faithless, erratic, and unreliable as he once was. He grew.
Peter would go on to have an extensive ministry, namely to Jewish Christians. He was one of the first to see the risen Jesus. He would be by His side until His ascension. He would be imprisoned for the cause of Christ. He would be martyred for the sake of the Gospel. This seems juxtaposed to David and Moses, doesn't it?
I'm not saying that David and Moses didn't love the Lord, nor am I saying that they weren't true believers in the Christ to come. However, there seems to be a difference between the ways that Moses and David matured in their faith in contrast to what we know of Peter's life. Moses and David, generally speaking, started off strong and ended poorly while Peter had the opposite happen. Moses and David certainly finished as strongly as they could considering their rebellion against God, but they were marred and haunted by their poor choices in their past. Peter was not infallible. Even he had to be rebuked for foolishness by the Apostle Paul as we read in Galatians 2. But there's one thing that seems to be a point of divergence between Moses, David, and Peter: Jesus Christ.
Moses saw the God's own back and irradiated beams of light from his face for weeks afterward. David's line was chosen to give birth to the divine incarnation of Jesus Christ. But Peter walked with Jesus. He saw the miracles first hand, he heard the parables explained in his own tongue. He saw Jesus minister to those that were unclean. He saw Jesus rebuke the self-righteous Pharisees. He saw His meekness. His grace. His love. Peter saw it all.
But it wasn't merely that he saw Jesus at work, otherwise he wouldn't have so naturally denied Jesus three times prior to His crucifixion. There was something more. He saw the risen
Christ. He saw death defeated. He saw the stone of the tomb rolled back, he felt the nail scarred hands and the sword pierced side. Peter was changed because he was an eyewitness to Jesus' defeat of sin and death. He saw Jesus do what He said he would do. Knowing the resurrected Jesus changes everything. Moses and David looked forward to the Savior that would crush the head of the serpent and liberate God's people from their own sinfulness while Peter practically saw the chains of bondage broken before his eyes. Peter finished strong because he fixed his gaze to the risen Jesus. He still fell, he still sinned, but he was made strong because of the righteousness of God that he partook in through the indwelt Holy Spirit.
We can only finish strong when our eyes are locked on the risen Christ. We can only mature in our faith, fleeing from sin and running toward holiness when we remind ourselves constantly that Jesus has declared us righteous and defeated death Himself. We are not locked into a faithless fate, because of Jesus we have hope to finish strong. Peter exhorts believers in 1 Peter 1:8:
"Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy." 1 Peter 1:8
Unlike Peter, we haven't yet seen the risen Christ, but though we have not laid eyes upon Him we still love Him. We still rejoice in Him in exhaustibly. We haven't seen Him, and we won't until He returns or calls us to His Heavenly arms, but that should not and cannot stop us from loving Him. Like Moses and David, we look forward to seeing and meeting the Christ. Like Peter, we rest upon the Holy Spirit, through the revelation of Jesus Christ through God's Word, allowing our lives to be changed, compelling us to finish strong
Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.