“You are not one of the disciples, are you? ‘I am not…’ As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, ‘You are not one of the disciples, are you?’ He denied it saying, ‘I am not.’ Again, Peter denied it.” John 18: 17, 25, 27.
Peter had followed Jesus for 3 years and had passionately loved Him and stood by His side. He had displayed his affection and commitment to Jesus throughout their shared experiences. His love was never questioned during the time they walked together. But on three different occasions when Peter’s fear was the highest, his actions were the lowest. He went into a self-preservation mode three times denying and abandoning the very One whose life he claimed to live for. He turned his back on the One who had been there for him over and over again. As onlookers I am sure that those people who questioned Peter would have been shocked to hear that Peter loved Jesus. They would have determined that his behavior showed otherwise. Peter was frightened, insecure and gave into his emotions. We will all face situations that require courage, confidence and faith but none of us will be perfect in our responses.
I have always said that God forbid someone judge me for my actions during the most painful seasons of my life. When I look back on the days when I was suffering at the hands of my daughter’s drug use, my behavior was less than stellar. I made choices unflattering to my life and my loved ones, and did not show myself to be the Christian I needed to be. In another situation, I was on the other side of the coin wherein an extended family member chose to deny and abandon their responsibilities in the relationship of a sick family member. Consistently the person warmed her hands by the fire of her own fears and agenda. When confronted, the excuses were many and her involvement was absent. The more time that passes, I understand that like Peter, her behavior had nothing to do with a lack of love. The behavior was a result of her pain, her fear and her past experiences. It has only been since I denied myself (my resentment, unresolved bitterness, etc…) and followed in the example of Christ’s forgiveness, that I have been able to genuinely reconcile my feelings towards her.
Only through God’s love am I able to see that she was a broken person during that time. Christ came back to Peter after the resurrection and gave him grace. Christ had every right to walk away and never see him again, but chose forgiveness and reconciliation. That is our example and our command as we walk in the steps of Jesus. Our actions and attitudes towards others reflect our relationship with God. ‘They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.’ Titus 1:16.
Peter went on to do great things for God and established the early church, despite his earlier abandonment and denials. God’s word could have left out this part, but I believe that it was included in the Holy Writ because it is the way of human nature. Tragedy and fear will lean towards the flesh but thankfully we have the Spirit who will reconcile and sort out our emotions.