69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” 71 When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and *said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied itwith an oath, “I do not know the man.” 73 A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away.” 74 Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”And he went out and wept bitterly.
Matthew 26:69-75 (NASB)
“I swear, I don’t know him.”
Peter had promised Jesus that he would never abandon him. He was willing to die with him if necessary. I really do believe Peter meant that when he made the promise. I don’t think it was empty boasting. Peter truly believed that he would never turn his back on Jesus. Then things got crazy. Things escalated quicker than Peter could have ever imagined. One minute Jesus is waking him up in the garden and the next, Judas is leading an armed posse straight up to them. Peter never intended to desert Christ. He even pulled his sword in a vain attempt to fight off the mob. Perhaps he really was going to die right there in the garden defending Jesus. He was not going to falter. And then it came right out of his mouth.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I swear, I don’t know him.”
“#$@&%*! I don’t know him.”
With that, the rooster crowed and Peter realized exactly what he had done. Luke says that Jesus actually turned and looked at Peter as the rooster crowed. I have often wondered what Peter was thinking at that moment. He flees the courtyard and goes off to weep bitterly. What thoughts filled his mind? We can only speculate but I imagine he was asking himself how he had messed up so badly? How could he have turned his back on the Lord?
I can imagine those thoughts crossing his mind because they cross mine from time to time. I have had those mountain top moments when I vowed that I will never back down and nothing on this earth could make me betray my God. And then the next moment I found myself alone in the valley wondering how I messed it all up…again.
I think that’s why I relate to Peter so much. He had moments in his life where he genuinely got it. He was able to really focus on what was going on and put Jesus at the center. But he also had those moments when Jesus had to rebuke him. Seriously, Jesus called him Satan one time. I can empathize.
The best part about Peter is that God still used him. He did betray Christ three times but he was able to profess his devotion again. He was the one who stood up at Pentecost and boldly preached the gospel. He’s the one who insisted that he be crucified upside down because he wasn’t worthy to die the same way Jesus did. Peter is a beautiful lesson in grace. He’s the epitome of second chances. I am encouraged by his testimony because it gives me hope.
Grace and peace.