And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before a cock crows today, you will deny Me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61-62 NAS)
Every time I read the Bible passage where Simon Peter denied the Lord three times (Luke 22:55-62), my heart would be deeply stirred. I have often wondered how Jesus and Peter must have felt during those moments. It must have been really heart wrenching and devastating. Peter must have been very disappointed with himself because he knew deep within him, he still loved the Lord, yet he has denied Jesus. Peter must have also felt himself like a betrayer as he looks at the eyes of Jesus, which must have pierced through his heart, knowing how the Lord must have felt then as well, betrayed by one whom Jesus cared.
Despite this sense of guilt, Peter did not fall away or despair, probably because of two reasons. The first is, Jesus prayed for him (Luke 22:32), and the second, because Peter genuinely received the Lord from the start with a repented heart (Matthew 4:18-19; John 1:42-43). Judas, on the other hand, although has followed the Lord as one of the twelve, never really did repent or receive Jesus wholeheartedly (John 12:6; Luke 22:3).
On the night just before He was betrayed, Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail, and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). But Peter replied, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” Jesus then answered, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me” (Luke 22:33-34).
The events thereafter became history with Peter heartbroken for denying knowing the Lord three times, his return to former trade as fisherman (John 21:1), his restoration after a conversation with the risen Christ (John 21:15-17), and his taking the lead to strengthen his brothers (Acts 1:15-17).
Unlike Peter, Judas felt remorse after seeing Jesus had been condemned, which eventually drove him to hang himself (Matthew 27:3-5). The reason for his despair is not because the Lord did not pray for him, but because right from the beginning, Judas did not genuinely receive the Lord. His remorse was not an indication of repentance but of overwhelming guilt. The fact that Satan was able to enter into Judas suggests the condition of his heart (Luke 22:3). Likewise, his evil intent revealed his true character when he spoke against the pouring of costly perfume by Mary for anointing the feet of Jesus.
Judas Iscariot said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” This, he said not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it (John 12:3-6).
Judas’ unrepentant heart left him in desperation, which was why the word of God said, “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born” (Matthew 27:5).
Unlike Judas, the turning point for Peter came about when he met and conversed with the risen Lord at the shore by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1, 15-17). Peter, with a contrite heart hurting within, confessed his love for the Lord three times when the Lord asked him “Do you love me?” That was what made the difference between the two ending of a broken faith, one of despair and eventual death, and the other of greater strength through acknowledgment, repentance, and eventual acceptance by the Lord.
Dear Lord, help us to respond like Peter when we at times fail You. Do not let us be in despair Lord, but bring us back on track as we confess and repent of our sins. Remind us Lord to always check our hearts to know our intents for doing the things we do. Restore and renew us Lord as we look ahead to draw closer to You.
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