Peter’s Dilemma

“Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house.  But Peter followed at a distance.  Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.  And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently and said, ‘This man was also with Him.’

But he denied Him, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know Him.’

And after a little while another saw him and said, ‘You also are of them.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not!’  Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, ‘Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are saying!’

Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.  And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’  So Peter went out and wept bitterly.”  Luke 22:54-62

“And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.”  The image sends chills up my spine.  I can only imagine what it felt like to Peter.  He loved this teacher, the One for whom he had left his peaceful life as a fisherman.  Only hours earlier, he had boldly sliced off the ear of a Roman soldier – an act that easily could have cost him his life.  In understandable fear, he could have fled the scene when Jesus was taken to the high priest’s home.  But he didn’t. Peter stayed close by.  He wanted to be near the One he loved.  The One he served.  The One who had walked on water, healed the lame, and caused the blind to see.  Peter had seen the miracles with his own eyes.  Having briefly walked on water, he had first-hand knowledge of the miraculous power of the Son of Man.

So what went wrong?  Step back in time, before the written written word, before Rembrandt’s creation, back to the scene that prophetic night.  Yes, Peter was close, but he was looming in the shadows.  He was maintaining a low profile and hoping for the best.  But when the light of the truth exposed him, he could hide no more.  His response was one of shame.  It was the opposite of hope.  His default reaction was not willful or malicious.  It was one of self-preservation.

I know that feeling all too well.  Sincere resolve.  Good intentions.  A genuine desire to do what is right.  Yet when the moment of testing unexpectedly arrives, I often default to self preservation as well.  For Peter, his denial was verbal.  For me, it can be much more subtle.

Every time I respond out of fear, I deny my identity as an heir to the Kingdom.

Each attempt to control circumstance, I forfeit my inheritance of peace.

My loyalties are divided between my Savior and myself.

Rather than hurt, anger, or disappointment, I can’t help but to think that Jesus was feeling compassion for Peter.  He didn’t turn his back, rather, He turned toward Peter. This is what He does.  This is who He is.  Jesus is never taken by surprise.  He is not limited by the dimension of time.   In the blink of an eye, Jesus could see Peter in his entirety.  He knew Peter not only as weak and fearful, but also as loyal and loving. This was the same Peter who had spoken boldly on His behalf.   He was the man upon whom the Church would be built.  He would be the first to enter the empty tomb.  And Peter, this timid man full of fear and shame, would one day die a treacherous martyr’s death on his own cross.  As Jesus turned to gaze upon His friend, perhaps He was also full of hope.  He knew that there was more to Peter than Peter ever could.

Yes, I’m comforted by the story of Peter’s denial.  It’s the story of us all.  His mutiny came as no surprise to Jesus, nor does mine.  From the creation of time, He knew that this dark event would occur.  It was simply the outer manifestation of the inner battle of all men.

We’re divided, fickle creatures.
We’re limited.
We’re selfish.
We’re self-preserving.
We’re in need of a Savior.

So as we dart about cutting off ears, speaking resolutely of our steadfast faith, and proclaiming dedication, there is the inevitable other side to the well-intentioned coin.  Upon occasion, we’ll  find ourselves lurking in the shadows.  Yet we have no reason to fear.  The work has been done.  We have been forgiven.  He sees us in our entirety and cannot be taken by surprise.  We can move from the darkness into the light with confidence.  Not in ourselves, yet in the One who will come again to banish shame, fear, and every other form of darkness into the eternal abyss.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Hosanna by Andrew Peterson

I am tangled up in contradiction.
I am strangled by my own two hands.
I am hunted by the hounds of addiction.
Hosanna!

I have lied to everyone who trusts me.
I have tried to fall when I could stand.
I have only loved the ones who loves me.
Hosanna!

O Hosanna!
See the long awaited king come to set his people free. We cry
O Hosanna!
Come and tear the temple down.
Raise it up on holy ground.
Hosanna!

I have struggled to remove this raiment, tried to hide every shimmering strand.
I contend with these ghosts and these hosts of bright angels.
Hosanna!

I have cursed the man that you have made me,
as I have nursed the beast that bays for my blood.
Oh, I have run from the one who would save me.
Save me, Hosanna!

O Hosanna!
See the long awaited king, come to set his people free. We cry
O Hosanna!
Come and tear the temple down.
Raise it up on holy ground.
Hosanna!

We cry for blood, and we take your life. Hosanna!
We cry for blood, and we take your life.
It is blood, it is life that you have given.

You have crushed beneath your heel the vile serpent.
You have carried to the grave the black stain.
You have torn apart the temple’s holy curtain.
You have beaten Death at Death’s own game. Hosanna!

O Hosanna!
Hail the long awaited king, come to set his people free. We cry
O Hosanna!
Won’t you tear this temple down, raise it up on holy ground.

O Hosanna!
I will lift my voice and sing: you have come and washed me clean.
Hosanna.

 



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2 thoughts on “Peter’s Dilemma

    • Christy – Thanks friend. Your fingerprints are (literally) all over it. I’m so grateful for your friendship and generosity with your heart and your giftedness.

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