I think that Peter’s denial of Christ is a very powerful story. Jesus had declared that Peter was the rock upon whom He would build the church. Peter developed into leader of the disciples. He displayed his love for Christ and passion to follow Him throughout Jesus’ ministry.
But then the Thursday night of Easter week happened. With Jesus arrested, Peter followed the arresting party. He eventually got to the courtyard of the High Priest’s home. Some there recognized him as Jesus’ disciple. Others identified his Galilean accent and associated him with Jesus. When directly challenged about his relationship with Jesus, Peter denied it.
Today, I read the Mark account. We think Mark’s primary source was Peter himself. It must have pained Peter to remember his denial. Yet he bravely included it. In Mark 14:71 Peter said, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.”
Yet instead of clucking my tongue and thinking “bad Peter,” I found myself remembering moments when I did the same. I remember Grade 7 or 8 English class. I remember one student sharing that she had found her hope in Christ. The teacher responded by affirming this student’s faith. Then the teacher asked, “Is there anyone else in this class who is a Christian.” No one else raised his or her hand including me. It was like I silently said, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” Sadly, that probably happened at other times in my life that I don’t remember so graphically.
Yet the Peter story does not end with him weeping bitterly. The resurrected Lord goes out of his way to forgive Peter and restore him to ministry. We see the restored Peter lead the early church. God worked through Peter to bring Christ to many others. Church history tells us that Peter died for the faith. The Romans crucified him. Maybe he could have escaped that sentence by repeating his denial from years before. Yet he did not. He maintained his witness to the end by the power of Spirit.
We Christians sometimes speak and act as if we do not know the man Jesus. Peter’s sobering story reminds us that such denial is possible for anyone. Yet God’s great love and forgiveness pursue us. He longs to share His love, forgiveness and fellowship with us. So if you’ve denied the Lord lately, don’t hesitate to come back to Him and make it right. He awaits with open arms.
“Thank you Lord for the great forgiveness and love your showed Peter. His life following your touch reveals the impact of Your love. Help us not to fear coming to you in confession. Once forgiven, help us to forgive others as you have forgiven us.”