Scripture: 54 Then (the authorities) seized (Jesus) and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. 55 When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56 Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 Then about an hour later still another kept insisting, “Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. 61 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.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
Observation: Peter repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to trust Jesus when the others had doubt. It was Peter who got out of the boat and walked on water with Jesus – at least until he began to sink. It was Peter who correctly declared Jesus “the Messiah, the son of the living God”. Peter was among those present with Jesus at his transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter has been revered from the first days of the Christian church, and rightly so. That said, our passage for today reminds us that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, messes up from time to time. Peter denied Jesus three times. It was a terrible betrayal! However, Peter would recover and become a key leader in the early church. As he “wept bitterly” (v.62) Peter was down, but not out.
Application: Things were going great for me as a teenager into young adulthood – at least as far as school goes. I always made good grades and did well on standardized tests. I don’t know why, it just came easily to me. I played lots of sports and was better than average at most. Upon graduation from high school I received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin. My parents were proud of me. I was proud of me.
Then things went south.
Because school had come so easily, my study habits weren’t well developed. I graduated from high school at age 17, so I was a bit immature to boot. I made poor decisions and lacked the work ethic to stay on top of things, so within a couple of years I was broke, out of school, out of work, going nowhere. I remember thinking, “How did it come to this?” I felt like a failure. But that wasn’t the end of the story.
I had learned the hard way, but had learned nonetheless. After a stint in the army I went back to school, this time joining my brother at Texas State in San Marcos. I finished my bachelor’s degree there – graduating with honors. After working in the corporate world for a few of years, discerned a call to seminary and ordained ministry. It took me a while to get there, but I eventually found my place. I was down, but not out.
Some of you reading this blog may be in a “down” place right now. Things haven’t worked out the way you expected. You’ve made some mistakes. You’ve let people down. You’ve let yourself down. Take heart dear brother/sister. You may be in a bit of a dead-end right now, but your story isn’t over.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we all get lost sometimes. Like Peter, we have good intentions but make a mess of things. Give us grace to overcome our mistakes and, with you by our side, turn things around. We may be down, but we’re not out. We pray this in your holy name. Amen.