Years ago a ship by the name of Peter Iredale sailed the western coastline of the United States on a regular basis. It was a large sailboat, with massive sails that transcended high above the deck of the ship. It was used as a shipping vessel. One fall day in 1906, the ship was on a delivery trip with cargo from Salina Cruz, Mexico bound for Portland, Oregon. The Peter Iredale had a crew of 27 on board when captain H. Lawrence spotted the lighthouse in the early hours of the morning. He immediately knew that he was off course. He and the crew tried to make corrections, but it was too late. Peter Iredale shipwrecked off of the coast of Oregon on October 20th 1906.
Today, all that remains of the large ship is part of the bow and some exterior ribs. The shipwreck has served as a reminder for 110 years that mistakes on the sea are costly. Although the ship was in good shape and seemed to have many years of sailing ahead, one mistake ended its life. It never sailed again after experiencing the shipwreck in 1906. According to records, it was sold for scrap. So it is with the Christian life. We need to guard ourselves and be alert. One mistake could cause us to shipwreck in the faith. We need to hear the warning of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:12 – take heed lest you fall. We don’t want our lives to be sold for scrap—perpetual examples of mistakes to avoid.
Yesterday I preached from Mark 14:66-72 and the main focus was centered on another Peter – the dominant leader of the disciples – the man known as Simon Peter. After the arrest of Jesus, Peter followed at a distance and entered the courtyard of the high priest. He found himself warming up by the fire with other bystanders. It didn’t take long before Peter was noticed, and that led to three horrific denials. What appeared to be a wonderful opportunity for a sermon turned into an embarrassing and cowardly rejection of Jesus.
Peter was first noticed by a servant girl of the high priest. One of the most lowly classes of people in that culture, and yet the bold and outspoken Peter quickly dismissed her statement as an error of misjudgment. In short, Peter denied Jesus and according to Mark – the rooster crowed. Not long afterward, another servant girl (according to Matthew and Luke, the next exchange was a different servant girl) likewise recognized Peter as one of the followers of Christ. Once again, Peter denied it. Matthew says he replied, “I do not know what you’re talking about.”
This all builds to the climatic third denial when the bystanders who were addressed by the servant girl likewise spoke up and identified Peter as a Galilean and connected the dots to Peter as a follower of Jesus. Peter was so intense and committed to rejecting Jesus that he pronounced a curse upon himself if he was not telling the truth. He completely rejected any connection to Jesus. According to Mark, “And immediately the rooster crowed a second time.” The prophecy of Jesus had come to pass just as He had predicted. Luke 22:60-62 adds an interesting fact that Mark doesn’t include. Luke 22:61-62 reads, “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”  And he went out and wept bitterly.”
The piercing eyes of Jesus crushed Peter. The echoes of the rooster were still ringing in his ears as Jesus looked toward him. Peter was brought to a low place of failure. He wept bitterly. The old saying, “Sin will take you farther than you’re willing to go, keep you longer than you’re willing to stay, and cost you more than you’re willing to pay” is something that Peter learned that night. He had boasted in a prideful display of affection that he would never deny Jesus – even to his death. Yet, he found himself publicly and passionately rejecting Jesus when it counted.
If the story had ended there, we would be left to believe that Peter’s life ended like Judas – in a horrific shipwreck. However, according to John 21, we see that Peter was publicly restored by Jesus. After Jesus cooked fish and fed the disciples on the sea shore, He publicly restored Peter. Peter would go on to sail again. This bold disciple who failed miserably would go on to preach the famous sermon at Pentecost where 3,000 came to faith in Christ. He would also go on to write 1 and 2 Peter in the New Testament as he was used to encourage persecuted believers. In the end, Peter would give his life for the sake of Christ and once again when facing the time of testing and trial, Peter refused to reject Jesus. According to tradition, Peter was eventually crucified upside down for his faith in Christ.
The apostle Peter refused to be a Peter Iredale. What about you?
Chapter 17 of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith is on Perseverance. In paragraph three, the statement reads:
In various ways-the temptations of Satan and of the world, the striving of indwelling sin to get the upper hand, the neglect of the means appointed for their preservation-saints may fall into fearful sins, and may even continue in them for a time. In this way they incur God’s displeasure, grieve His Holy Spirit, do injury to their graces, diminish their comforts, experience hardness of heart and accusations of conscience, hurt and scandalize others, and bring God’s chastisements on themselves. Yet being saints their repentance will be renewed, and through faith they will be preserved in Christ Jesus to the end.