Mark 14:66-72 (ESV)
66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
We all know the story of how Peter denied Christ. One moment, Peter had been with Jesus, at the table, declaring that, no matter what , he would stick with Jesus. We all remember Peter’s bravery in the garden, cutting off the ear of one of those who had come to arrest Jesus. As one author once said, “There’s Peter: flash the sword then deny the Lord.”
But haven’t’ we all been just like Peter? Every guy that I have ever known has been like Peter. How many times have you looked in your mirror or boasted to your friends about what you would say if so and so dares come into your presence only to chicken out when you are finally face-to-face with your nemesis? How many times have you given yourself a pep talk about how you are winsome and charming, and how the girl is sure to go out with you if only you will ask,, but when she walks into the room, you can’t speak?
Or, let’s take this out of guy territory, and let’s place it at the feet of all believers. You know the gospel. You love the gospel. You’ve perhaps even gone on mission trips where you boldly shared the gospel. But then there’s your neighbor. If you share the gospel with her, she might be offended. Or, there’s your Christian friend, doing something you know is wrong. But if you confront him, maybe you’ll look like a legalist. Suddenly, all that resolve you thought you had seeps away like ocean waves flowing back down the beach and into the sea.
The point is, we all know what Peter is going through here. Sure, maybe you would have done different if you were in his sandals that night, but then again, maybe not. Peter was tired, confused, and scared. Perhaps Peter reasoned that he would do Jesus no good by simply being arrested and beaten in front of him. Without question, Peter sinned greatly in this detestable denial; let’s not forget that. But, let’s also realize that he was not in a comfortable place, and we have often failed in our own uncomfortable places.
Then, if you are able to give Peter a little grace, remember this too: Jesus forgave and restored Peter. That’s the ultimate end of this story. Jesus sought Peter out. Jesus showed Peter that Peter’s love was not as vibrant as Peter would have bragged, and then he sent Peter on with the task of feeding the sheep, the early church.
Jesus knows you. He knows that your mouth writes checks that your actions will not cash. He knows that you are not nearly so brave as you pretend. He knows that your tummy flutters and you stammer sometimes when you should be bold as a lion. He knows you, and if you are his child, he saved you. God chose a very weak, foolish, frail people to be his children. God’s grace is sufficient for us in our greatest weaknesses and failures. Yes, we are weak in the knees like Peter, but, if we have come under Christ’s grace through faith in him, we are now and forever the children of God, heirs according to the promise, heirs of eternal life.
No, I would not urge you to be like Peter. Stand strong when you get the chance to proclaim your allegiance to the Lord. When the door is open to share the gospel, go through it. But if, for some reason, you fail to seize the opportunity, remember Peter. Peter was wrong. Peter was a wimp that night. Peter failed miserably. And, Peter was forgiven, restored to Christ, and used in his service to glorify God.