“’No!’ Peter insisted. ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will never deny You!’” (Matthew 26:35a NLT)
Recently, I read about a man who was hit twice by the same train. “How is that even possible?” was my initial response. Apparently, he stood too close to the edge of the platform when the train was coming in and the train mangled his arm – twice!
We shake our head in wonder at a person who would allow that to happen. Yet, unfortunately, it’s all too common in many of our lives. For example, how many people do you know that come out of a nasty divorce and almost immediately jump into another relationship, with even worse results. Or how many times does Satan tempt us to view porn, lust after a person or object, gossip, gamble, lie, cheat, steal, and on and on, and though we’ve sworn a thousand times it will never happen again . . . it does!
Matthew 26:75b paints a vivid picture of us when we succumb AGAIN to the deceptions of the enemy when it says: “And he (Peter) went away, weeping bitterly.”
Regardless of how many times I’ve wished my betrayal of the Lord wasn’t true of me, it is. But, by God’s grace, I pray it will never be again. So, what changed? Nothing in me. I’m still the same weak man I’ve always been, but like Peter, I sought forgiveness and found strength in Jesus, I didn’t otherwise possess.
I’ve often wished I could have been privy to the conversation between Jesus and Peter on the beach after Jesus’ resurrection. In John 21 we read about another time Jesus appeared to His disciples, but this time Jesus was alone on the beach and Peter and six other disciples had been fishing all night but caught nothing. Jesus called out to them, telling them to “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!”
Of course, they pulled up more fish than they could handle. As a result, John realized it was the Lord and alerted Peter, who immediately jumped into the water and made his way to shore. This was the first time Peter had opportunity to speak with Jesus alone. What do you think they talked about?
In my mind’s eye I see Peter falling at Jesus’ feet, unable to look into His eyes, pleading with the Lord to forgive Him; pledging never to allow his betrayal to happen again – and it didn’t! From that point forward Peter was the key leader, not only among the 11 remaining disciples, but in the early Church. What happened to Peter? How was he able to make such a remarkable turnaround?
The primary insight I have gained is through my own experience as a fallen man. It seems strange on many levels, but we tend to learn more lasting lessons through failure than through success. I know what it’s like to weep bitter tears of regret because of my denial of the Lord. I’ve wallowed in the shallows of self-pity, as I suspect Peter did, only to remain just as defeated and alone.
What changed for me, as I suspect for Peter, was feeling the touch of the Master’s hand on my bowed head as he healed my broken heart. For me, it wasn’t His voice that changed my heart, it was His healing touch.
We can run, like Jonah, or try to hide among our friends, like Peter, but ultimately what’s necessary is falling at our Savior’s feet in worship and submission to His holy authority. I was prepared to be chastised and reprimanded for my flagrant disobedience. I wasn’t prepared for His gentle, loving touch and tender voice as He said to me, “You’re forgiven.”
We’ll look at this more closely in tomorrow’s post.
Blessings, Ed 😊