"Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." (Luke 22:35)Many focus on the miracle that Jesus could predict Peter's denying him, even down to the three crows.
The real lesson here is different: Jesus and the Supreme Being are teaching Peter (and each of us) a lesson in humility.
Simon Peter was expressing his confidence in his devotion to Jesus. Such pride in our own faith has the effect of interfering in our path back to our relationship with the Supreme Being. And in the case of Peter, also being able to lead others back to God.
Peter feels confident in his own abilities. He feels confident in his ability to withstand a threat of bodily harm on behalf of his devotion. He is confident in his strength of devotion.
Jesus was trying to show him - and each of us - that whatever strength of devotion we might have is dependent upon the strength given to us by the Supreme Being. We are not strong by ourselves. Our devotion is not a product of our strength. By ourselves, we are weak. We are limited. We are prone to error. Without the strength of our relationship with the Source of strength, and our Best Friend and Protector, God - we have nothing.
We are faced with this choice often - we feel confident in our religiosity and our capacity to do important work - without realizing this capacity comes from the Supreme Being. Thus our choice becomes: Do we take pride in ourselves or do we take refuge in the Supreme Being?
The choice we make is critical to our spiritual life.
Why are we continually being presented with such challenges? Because they are tests. They are testing our determination to return to our relationship with God.
Why? Why does God present us with these sorts of challenges and choices?
Because the Supreme Being isn't interested if we aren't committed.
Just consider if a man asked a woman to marry him, and she said yes, but then later she showed signs of not being committed. She acts as if she wasn't sure she wants to marry him after all. How would the man feel?
Such a man would probably call off the engagement and wedding. He doesn't want to marry someone if she isn't sure about it. If she isn't committed to it. After all, he doesn't want to force the woman to marry him. What kind of a relationship would that be? If one was committed and the other wasn't?
In the same way, the Supreme Being doesn't want to bring us home to the spiritual realm if we have not become committed to Him.
But these types of challenges are not intended for us to prove to the Supreme Being that we are ready to return to Him. He already knows whether we are ready or not. He already knows our heart.
Rather, these challenges are presented to us in order to show us whether we are ready to return to Him. And they also indicate what our type of weaknesses are - so that we can become better prepared - and not be so proud of our abilities.
In other words, whatever our weaknesses are, by the Supreme Being's arrangement we are presented with challenges that allow us to see and work on those weaknesses.
One might compare it to a teacher who hands out tests to each student - except that each student receives a test that specifically tests the parts of the subject matter they are weakest on. Each student receives a unique test that challenges their weaknesses.
Such a teacher would be extraordinary, yes? Someone who knows us from deep within our hearts, and challenges us according to our unique weaknesses. This is the Supreme Being. He is the most awesome Teacher.
Is life random or predetermined?Many will insist that life is random, and all the seeming consistencies are in our minds.
Many others insist that our life is already charted out for us. This is called predetermination.
Both are wrong. Our lives are neither random or predetermined.
Rather, we are constantly being presented with one choice after another in life, and each choice we make comes with related consequences. So it is our choices that create our course in life. The choices we make determine our future.
There are myriads of different choices - mundane and seemingly important. All these choices ultimately represent a single overriding choice we each have with regard to our lives:
Do we want to live a self-centered life, or do we want to learn to love and serve the Supreme Being?
The former results in consequences that bring us continual sorrow and a life of emptiness. The latter results in a life of fulfillment. This is why Jesus' most important teaching was:
" ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ " (Luke 10:27)