By Jeff Arnette
How many times have you heard that sentiment? I have often tried to follow those wise words but often I have caught myself saying those dreaded words. It never fails that eventually I will carelessly say it and it never fails, I almost immediately regret it. I have often wondered why we use such ideas and why we inevitably regret doing so. Perhaps, it has something to do with the fact that “never” carries such huge implications.
To use the word “never” you have to be positive about what you know and positive about every circumstance under consideration. This requires a level of knowledge we simply can’t possess. We are not omniscient and there will always be factors we hadn’t considered or anticipated. Some things that are simply beyond our ability to know. When I consider the phrase “Never say never” I can’t help but think of the apostle Peter. Three times he uses the word “never” and all three times he was proven wrong.
The first time happens in Matt. 16:21-23. In this section, Jesus is telling the disciples that he is going to Jerusalem, will suffer many things, be killed, and raised again on the third day. Peter, like the others, is shocked and confused by this revelation. In response, he pulls Jesus aside and expresses his disapproval. Then comes the always dangerous words, “this will never happen to you Lord.” Peter is in essence saying, “it can’t happen to you” while also saying “I won’t let it happen.”
The second time is found in John 13:8, where Jesus is washing the feet of the disciples. Jesus intends to teach them a lesson about humility and service to others, but Peter doesn’t understand this yet. When Jesus gets to Peter, he refuses to allow Jesus, his Lord and teacher, to wash his feet. For Peter, Jesus is far too important to allow him to wash his dirty, stinky feet. That’s the lowly work of servants not the Messiah. He literally says, “you shall never wash my feet!”
The third time is found in Matt. 26:33. Here Jesus is telling them, on the night of his betrayal, that they would all fall away from him on this night. Peter again says those dreaded words, “I will never fall away!”
In each instance Peter didn’t know everything he assumed he knew, and the words of Jesus proved to be true. What can we learn from this? First, we learn to Never use the words “never.” Second, and more important, we should learn that Jesus is always right. Even when it seems to go against everything we think and feel, Jesus is always right. Third, we should learn that Jesus is the only one who can use the word “never” and it be correct. In Heb. 13:5 Jesus says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
This is a promise you can depend on because Jesus said so! He will never you or forsake you.
- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://centralhaywoodcoc.com/