"Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times." And he broke down and wept." Mark 14:72 (NIV)
Peter was a disciple that Jesus held very close to him. Jesus loved Peter as he did the other disciples. Peter, though, was very dedicated to Jesus and his time on this earth. As we know, Jesus shared during the Last Supper, that Peter was going to deny Jesus three times. I'm sure, if I was Peter, that I couldn't believe what Jesus was saying. In fact, he even responds in Mark 14:31, " . . . Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.". Obviously, Jesus knew what was coming, in so many ways.
Here is a person, Peter, that spent many years following the Chosen One. He gave up his career as a fisherman to learn, grow, and do with Jesus. He gave everything for Jesus. So what would prompt him to deny Jesus, and not just once, but three times? Let's go back to that fateful day. Jesus was carried off as a prisoner. People were mocking Jesus, calling him all kinds of names. He was being questioned by Caiaphas and although he was answering yes to being called the Christ, they said they had heard blasphemy. Obviously the situation didn't look good for Jesus. Did Peter really want to associate himself to Christ at that point? Things weren't bad when people were laying palms as Jesus rode in on the donkey, but now, things had turned very dismal. Peter was being taunted by others for his association for Jesus. Maybe to save his reputation, maybe to save his life, certainly to fulfill prophecy, Peter denied Jesus three times.
Once again, during this Lenten season, we self reflect. You may think, "I would NEVER deny Jesus. I would ALWAYS share that he saved my sins." Have you? Would you? Over my years, I know there have been times when I have denied Jesus. Maybe not outwardly, but through my words and actions, I may not have been standing in the courtyard shouting, "Yes, I believe in Jesus." When might you ask? Over the years, it may have been in front of friends that weren't Christian. It may have been at work, when others may not have shared my save values. I may not have said, "I don't follow Jesus", but I may not have stood up the way I should have.
I do know one thing, any time that it has happened, I have felt like Peter. On my way home from school or work, I wept. I would beg for Jesus' forgiveness and when I knelt at the Lord's table, the guilt would resurface and then be taken from me. What a gracious Lord we have. Even when we reject him, even when we turn our back on him, even when we deny him or disown him, He doesn't disown us. He continues to understand; he continues to teach; he continues to LOVE us - unconditionally. Imagine if someone denied you - not just once, but three times. How would you feel? Me? I would have a bunch of resentment - not sure I could get past that. Yet, not our Lord!! He loves us so and NEVER leaves us.
Did Jesus ever forgive Peter? Not only was their forgiveness, He provided Peter and the other disciples, with the Great Commission, sending them out into the world to tell others about what He had done for us. Do you think Peter learned from this? I'm thinking, under all accounts, that he certainly did. Have I learned when I didn't stand up for my Lord? I have. I am hoping that as I get older, my courage has increased. I no longer laugh off being a Christian, I stand up for being a Christian. As in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old is gone, the new is here!"
Peter reveled in his new creation. I know that I do as well. How about you? Is it time, once again, to self reflect and look at what we see in the mirror? What are you seeing? If it isn't a new creation, then let's ask God for forgiveness, so we can walk with Him with our heads held up high. It's simple. We just need to have simple faith! Prayers for a continued blessed Lenten.
Oh Dearest Jesus: Yes, we know there have been times when we have denied you, when we have not stood on the top of the world to proclaim your name. Please, continue the work you have started in us, so that we will never deny you, but stand up in your name with glory. Help us to be a new creation - new in your love."