It’s a little after midnight (our time) when we join Jesus in our reading today. He is enduring the first portion of His trials. This will be a night that will affect history forever. This night is significant for Peter too and he will never be the same again afterwards.
Have you ever had an incident happen in your life that you can’t seem to live down? Something embarrassing or even humiliating that EVERYONE seems to want to share? An event that is retold as a warning or an example? Well, this night is Peter’s turn to give everyone something to talk about for forever.
We have looked at this event twice before. In Matthew’s gospel we looked at Peter’s vehement statements of “I don’t know this man” from his perspective. In Mark we looked at the events from Jesus’ perspective as the bird is heard. Today I want to go a completely different direction. I want to ask WHY the Holy Spirit would impress upon all four gospel writers to include Peter’s lowest moment ever.
I understand why John might include the story in his account. He was actually present somewhere in the courtyard when Peter made his three statements. He could say he was simply recording all the details as they actually transpired. I can see Matthew including these events because the disciples were all together following Jesus’ death and I’m sure this topic came up. Maybe Peter was actually hiding in shame during the disciples wait time and the others were curious. John would probably have shared the story at that point. But how and why did Mark and Luke include the story?
Luke wrote his gospel as a letter to his friend Theophilus. He conducted research and interviews to gather all the information he could. He wanted a full account, so he searched out the stories. Apparently this was one of the stories shared with him.
But Mark’s gospel including the story is the most astonishing, if we accept the theologian’s account of how Mark got his information. We are told by those MUCH more learned than me that Mark’s source of information was Peter himself. If this is true, then Peter shared his lowest moment ever with Mark, a young man he was training for the ministry. But why would he show himself to be so fallible to someone he was trying to teach?
GOOD QUESTION! I believe it was essential that EVERYONE hear this story. Not because it is some literary masterpiece but because it doesn’t end here. This story involves one of Jesus’ closest friends and has him personally wound Him like none other. It demonstrates the arrogance of man and the results of NOT heeding Jesus’ words. The aspect of selfishness is also highlighted in this story. But more than anything else, this story opens the door for forgiveness, amazing grace, and unconditional love.
Peter’s story didn’t end here. He didn’t take “the easy way out” like Judas did. He recognized his sin and was broken by it. I can’t imagine the grief he felt during those three long days. I’m certain many of the other disciples tried to comfort him by reminding him that they too deserted Jesus. But this wasn’t the end of the story either.
The piece that makes this story worthwhile is the way Jesus restored Peter. Did the fact that Jesus said he would be restored provide Peter some comfort in the interim? We haven’t reached the point in our reading where we see Jesus’ restorative process, but we know it’s coming. The Peter that emerges on the other side of that restoration is the Peter that makes sure everyone sees how deep Jesus’ love is. Love that restores the broken. Love that is new every morning. Love that keeps no count of wrongs.
Lord Jesus, thank You that You didn’t leave Peter there. You could have very easily washed Your hands of him that day but You didn’t. You loved him right back into full fellowship. You continued to call out to His spirit. You sustained him during Your physical absence. And You confirmed Your calling of him when You restored him. Our hardest lessons often become our greatest building blocks. Never again would Peter deny knowing You. He would tell this story time and time again as a testimony to Your love. Help me see it that way from now on. Help me focus on the love shown then and at the end!