Excerpts from Moments with the Savior by Ken Gire
In the course of the evening, the disciples would go from arguing over their greatness in the kingdom to deserting their King. Jesus warned them it would happen:
“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”’ (Mark 14:27)
It happened just as he said. The pack of blood-thirsty wolves came, their teeth bared for the kill. They led away the Good Shepherd, who, with crimson love, would lay his life down for the sheep. The sheep, meanwhile, huddled themselves away in cold, frightened bunches of twos and threes.
Only two of the disciples dared to backtrack and trail Jesus as he was being led away. One was John, the disciple Jesus loved; the other, Peter.
Peter- the ROCK among the disciples. Tonight the rock would crumble. Tonight he would be reduced to a mere pebble of a man.
He would start the evening in a resolute posture in the upper room: “Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” (Mark 14:29)
Later in the night, he would stand singlehandedly against a mob of Roman soldiers, wielding his sword in the torch-lit Garden of Gethsemane. But before dawn, he wouldn’t even be able to stand up to the stares of a young servant girl.
Cloaked in anonymity, Peter comes to warm himself by a campfire. He comes to think, to sort things out, to plan his next move.
A servant girl squints at Peter through the uncertain light cast by the fire. “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
Peter feels the heat of the incriminating flames and flatly denies the charge. He begins to sweat now. What good would I be to Jesus if my identity was out in the open? It would only make matters worse. And who would get word back to the others?
Sometime later there is another accusation. And another. And immediately more denials, these ones more forceful. Peter curses and swears, letting loose a herd of expletives in hopes of kicking up enough dust to cloud his identity. In no uncertain terms he denies any association with Jesus. The ploy seems to have worked. The circle around the campfire appears satisfied.
But somewhere in the night a rooster stretches its neck, shakes its feathers, and crows an indictment.
Peter jerks his head around and catches Jesus looking at him. It is a brief moment, but a moment like this has a way of stretching and framing itself to hang in the mind.
The Savior utters no words. Nor does he shake his head in disappointment. Or lower it in disgust. His look is not a begrudged I-told-you-so. No, his look carries no grudge. It is the look of a friend who understands.
With that look, all of Peter’s pent-up emotions suddenly cave in on themselves. He runs from the courtyard, bitter tears stinging his eyes. He stops somewhere outside and beats his fists against his chest. He pulls at his hair. He gnarls his face. The weight of his guilt is too much to bear. He collapses in a wailing heap. He cries and cries until there are no more tears to cry. But then he cries some more.
He weeps for the Savior he has so miserably failed. And he weeps for himself. When the tears finally do stop, the night has paled to gray. Soon it will be dawn.
Be hard on Peter if you like. Talk about how self-confident he was. Talk about how impulsive he was. Talk about how he was always shooting off at the mouth.
Go ahead. But before you do, remember that the other disciples had already deserted Jesus. Peter and John alone followed him that terrifying night. True, Peter followed him at a distance. But he still followed. Yes, he was rash in drawing his sword in the garden. He did it mistakenly. But he did it against insurmountable odds, almost at a certain loss of his own life. And it’s true, he failed Jesus. But he failed in a courtyard where the others dared not set foot.
So go ahead. Be hard on him. But remember – Jesus wasn’t hard on him. Jesus was the friend who prayed.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank you for Peter. He was a great man. He loved you so much. He left everything to follow you. In your name he healed the sick, cast out demons, and preached the kingdom. For three and a half faithful years he stood beside you. And when the soldiers came to take you away, he stood up for you. When the others deserted you, he followed all the way to the temple courtyard.
I confess I would have never made it that far.
Help me to not past judgment on him, Lord. Rather, may his great and fervent love for you pass judgment on me.
Help me to see that I deny you in so many areas of my life, in so many ways, and at so many different times during the day.
When I am too busy to pray, I deny that you are the center of my life.
When I neglect your Word, I deny that you are competent to guide my life.
When I worry, I deny that you are Lord of my circumstances.
When I turn my head from the hungry and the homeless, I deny that you are a God of mercy who has put me here to be your hands and your feet.
When I steal something from another person to enrich or enhance my life - whether that be something material or some credit that is rightly due another, which I have claimed for myself – I deny that you are the source of all blessings.
Forgive, Jesus, for all those quiet ways, known only to you, that I have denied you.
Help me to pray for and encourage others the way you did for Peter. Even during times when they may in some way deny their friendship. Especially during those times.
Thank you, most faithful of friends, that no matter how terribly I have failed you, I can always look into your eyes, and there find forgiveness.