Denial and Redemption

After the final Passover meal, things begin to move quickly; Jesus goes with His disciples to the garden where He prays for Himself, His disciples, and all of those who will believe through their word (John 17), and the story progresses quickly through betrayal, arrest, trial, and denial (John 18).

I want to step out of the story in this post and take a look at the life of one of my favorite disciples, Peter. Peter is the one who is in your face and always has something to say. In a way, we all have qualities like Peter, we can claim to have big faith and yet cower in fear. Peter was the first disciple to say, You are the Christ, yet in his next breath, rebuke Jesus. Peter is all over the map, but it was Peter who stood up and preached the first message of the Christian Church and 3,000 people were saved.

Jesus told Peter that he would deny knowing Him, but typical of Peter, he said he would never do such a thing. While Peter was brave enough to cut someone’s ear off, he wasn’t like John, who followed and stuck with Jesus during the trial. Peter stayed out by the gate, warming himself by the fire and that’s where we will pick up the story.

Luke 22:54-62 NKJV “Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. 55 Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56 And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” 57 But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” 58 And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 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.” 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.”

Could you imagine denying Jesus and then seeing Him turn and look at you? What a heartbreaking experience for Peter. Yet, unlike Judas, he didn’t let the anguish of denying Jesus steal the truth of the love of Jesus from him. This is why Peter is one of my favorite people in the Bible. Yes, he made mistakes, and he sinned, but Peter was all in on following Jesus even when he didn’t seem like it, but the maturity would come in time. We often focus on the fact that Peter began to drown, but he was also the only one who got out of the boat to go to Jesus. He denied Jesus, but it was he and John who ran to the tomb.

Peter denied Jesus, but Jesus restored Peter. Peter denied that he knew Jesus three times, but in John 21:15-19, Jesus gave Peter the opportunity to declare that he loved Him as many times as he denied Him. That is a picture of the love, mercy, and grace of our Lord. That same grace and mercy is extended to all of us who have failed Jesus. We may not have publicly denied Him, but we may not have publicly stood for Him. We have committed sin and, at times, not repented. Although we may have failed Him, He still desires that we come to Him. When He rose, He told Mary to go get Peter. Jesus singled him out for restoration, and fifty days later, he was the one preaching the gospel on Pentecost. We’re all like Peter; we have our ups and downs, we have good moments, and we have terrible moments, and we say profound things and some really ridiculous things. Through all of it, the grace of Jesus is there; the love of God is ready to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. As you have been reflecting this week on the life of Christ, ask yourself; is your relationship with Jesus where you want it to be? Are you the witness you want to be? Are you living the godly life you know you should? These questions are not presented to bring condemnation, but like Peter wept, maybe some of us need to weep, repent, and confess our love for Jesus. Good Friday is a time of redemption and restoration. Spend some time in prayer tonight and get back to that place of first love; let the Scripture renew you and bring back the joy of your salvation.

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