By Scott Brown
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Waverly
Focal Passage: Luke 22:54-62
This is the story of Peter’s thrice denial of Jesus. After proudly declaring he would be willing to die for Jesus, and after even attempting murder for Him, Peter would defiantly deny that he even knew Jesus.
It is almost funny how fast fear can shift our priorities when we let it in. In all fairness, it probably was not just fear that motivated this denial. Peter was a Jewish man living under the rule of Rome. Many had begun to look for a Messiah who would rescue them from Rome and establish a supreme Jewish state. This was the kingdom so many longed for.
Considering the type of cultural Messiah for which so many were searching, Peter would have likely somewhat considered the betrayal by Judas as a moment for Jesus to show His power, the moment of action when they would begin a war against those Peter considered sworn enemies.
He had a sword and he was ready to use it in the name of this Messiah. When Jesus allowed His own arrest, Peter must have felt confused and powerless. After everything, the religious leaders had won, their movement was defeated, the kingdom for which Peter so longed was thwarted.
It was Peter who made the great confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” Peter was there to see the countless miracles, hear the amazing teachings, and he was first to truly grasp the amazing truth that Jesus was indeed their long-awaited Messiah. Seeing Jesus on trial, beaten and bruised, it was easy to forget all he had seen before this moment. Standing near enough to blend in yet know what was happening, people begin to recognize Peter as a disciple of Jesus.
Walking with Jesus these past three years goes from being the greatest joy and honor to a liability. He denies being a disciple, denies it again, and finally denies a third time with yelling and cursing. In that moment, Peter hears the rooster crow and knows exactly what he has done. Jesus divinely told Peter beforehand exactly what he would do in that moment, but I don’t think that made the sting of Peter’s denial any less for either of them.
Peter’s denial is something he never forgot. We see him gathered with the disciples as they mourn their loss. We see him running all the way into the tomb to see for himself the good news of the Savior’s resurrection.
We also see him recognizing Jesus on the shore and diving out of the boat to get to Him. Jesus never directly addresses Peter’s denial of Him but that morning on the shore, He restores Peter and sets the standard for the rest of Peter’s life.
Just like Peter’s denial, Jesus thrice probes Peter’s heart with the question, “Do you love me?” Each time, and with increasing conviction, Peter responds with a yes. Each time Jesus repeats the command to feed His sheep.
Peter made many more missteps and mistakes in his life, but from that point forward he served Jesus without regret or retreat. What a great Savior we have to entirely forgive and redeem Peter. What a great Savior to entirely forgive and redeem us! B&R