He denied Jesus three times….
Peter was a zealot for Jesus Christ. He endangered his own life when he drew his sword and cut off the ear of one the guard’s of the Chief Priest the night Jesus was betrayed. He honestly told Jesus that he would die with Him; he had already turned his back on his career and family to follow Jesus; he was the foundation, or “rock” upon which Jesus would build the church…and yet he did deny Jesus three times.
You know the story: “ Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”
But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said. A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” “Man, I am not!” Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:54-62)
I realize that there are scholars far wiser and more learned than I am and that they can explain why Peter did what he did. But I often see myself (and other preachers) in Peter at times, and I can understand why he did what he did. Peter was full of bluster, bravado and loud-spoken confidence when the others were there to hear him (or when Jesus was there to bridle him in). He was also passionate, tough, strong, and a “rock” when it came to dependability and believing in the cause, etc.
But Peter was alone when Jesus was being humiliated and slapped around this particular night. He was surrounded by folks in that courtyard that were not fond of, or impressed with, Jesus. Peter was in enemy territory and he was watching what he said. There was no audience there to cheer him on or to offer approval for his tenacity and convictions. No, it was not just Peter by himself— the solitary little fisherman with hostile objectors menacing him———and he was afraid, outnumbered and in risk of dying alone. We can be brave, or at least hold onto some dream of a “grand finale”, when others are watching……but what about when we are absolutely alone or, worse, surrounded by others that do not share our passion, love, conviction, values or basic beliefs?
And that’s when Peter decided to lie, hide and show his true colors. Tragedies, pandemics and catastrophes don’t “make us” (nor do they make a Speaker of the House, a President or a Govenor), they reveal who we really are. And Peter was a lot smaller than he realized when the rooster finally crowed.
The rooster is crowing in America and around the world right now. We’re seeing the mettle and mind of our national leaders, our pastors, spiritual super-stars and heroes. And what about us? What about you and me? What are we doing? Are we denying Him or courageously acknowledging Him?
Peter changed after he realized what a coward he had been—- and he became a lion. His pitiful denial was replaced by an undeniable transformation after he met the risen Christ and received the Holy Spirit. He would never again be ashamed of His Lord. Once you meet the risen Messiah and receive His Holy Spirit you cannot be the same creature.
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