After Jesus had been arrested and taken away, Peter followed at a distance, entered the courtyard and was warming himself at the fire. He was recognised by one of the maids of the high priest and subsequently by other bystanders as having been amongst the disciples of Jesus. Three times this happened and three times Peter denied it saying, “I do not know this man (Jesus) of whom you speak.” (Verse 71)
Then the cock crowed and Peter recalled the words of Jesus. He left in utter despair and he wept bitterly when he realised what he had done. How would he have felt at that point in time? Surely it would have felt like the lowest point in his life.
Here is a man who had walked with and learned from the Lord for three years or so and when it came to the crunch he could not even admit to knowing the Lord. Is it any wonder that he went out and wept bitterly when the realisation of whet he had done hit him.
Jesus was well aware that this would happen for he told Peter as much previously. He also comforted him previously saying to him that when he had turned and repented of this action, to strengthen the others. It was clear that Peter was a remarkable individual to be able to carry out this work in the face of his actions. But he knew that the Lord did not hold it against him. In essence the Lord said for him to “Get over it,” and help the others who perhaps did not have Peter’s strength.
There is a lesson in this for us too. We see here the failings of Peter, who was perhaps the greatest of the disciples. Peter was the one the Lord commissioned to feed and tend the flock after the Lord went. (John 21:15-19) It was Peter who was given the task of teaching, protecting and caring for the fledgling church. Surely Jesus would entrust such an important role to just anybody. Peter was the apostle to the Jews as Paul said in Galatians 2:7-9.
So if this great apostle and chosen instrument of the Lord could fail miserably and then get back on his feet to carry out his tasks for the Lord, then we can too. We need to understand too that when we fail and fall, we must not wallow in the depths of despair over our weaknesses, but instead we must rise, repent and return to the Lord as quickly as we can. More than that we must learn the lessons of our failures to try and not repeat those things that caused us to fall in the first place.
This is the challenge of Christianity and also the blessing. We are challenged as we walk to grow stronger and to become like Christ. But along the path we will fail occasionally and the challenge is not to fall headlong into condemnation.
The blessing is that we have a Saviour who has been through all of these things and understands our weaknesses. Jesus Christ is also compassionate and forgiving, knowing that the road we are walking can be tough sometimes. That is why God gave us his grace so that when we fall, our failures will be covered and we can rise and get back on the straight and narrow pathway to life.
Peter’s denial of Christ was a tough thing for him to have to go through. But it also shows us that there is forgiveness in repentance and the opportunity to grow when we turn back to the Lord. A lesson we should always remember and take to heart.
(Picture sourced from oChristian.com http://clipart.ochristian.com/)