Luke 22: 54-71
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” Then about an hour later still another kept insisting, “Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” They kept heaping many other insults on him. When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. They said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us.” He replied, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” All of them asked, “Are you, then, the Son of God?” He said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!”
How many times have I denied Jesus? More than I can number.
I have denied him by my actions. I have denied him with my words. I have denied him by failing to listen to my conscience, and thereby doing the very thing I knew I shouldn’t have—or not doing the thing that I should have done.
And so, when I read the story of Peter, I take it personally.
I am Peter.
And if I were Peter on the night when Jesus was arrested, I am pretty certain that I would have done the same thing that he did. I think I too would have been scared for my life, and I think I may very well have denied knowing him to save myself.
And, I know that I would have walked away from that moment feeling horrible about myself. I would have closed my eyes and I would have seen nothing but Jesus’ eyes looking back at me.
I also would have walked away from that moment thinking that there was nothing I could have done to fix it. Nothing to take my shame and guilt away. I would have thought that there was no way that Jesus, my friend and teacher, would ever have forgiven me.
But, that is where I would be most wrong.