I run and run, up and down the dark back alleyways of Jerusalem. But I cannot hide from the inner conflict and turmoil. Leaning against a cool, dirty wall I let the weight of my treacherous body slide hopelessly to the ground, ashamed of what I have done.
In my mind I see Him, trudging up the hill; the weight and burden of that heavy cross on His back, bending Him almost double. A stranger had taken the cross from Him, stooping to carry it. If I could have taken it! But I couldn’t. Courage had failed me, just as He knew it would.
Safe in a seething mass of humanity, I had dared to look up at Him, resting my eyes on His face for just a moment. In that moment He had looked up and amidst that great crowd surging around Him, His eyes had found mine; and I couldn’t look away. What had I expected to see on that beloved face; anger, disappointment, accusation, sorrow? Yet He had looked at me with the same love and raw compassion that I had seen on His face for Judas, on the night thirty pieces of silver had paid the price of betrayal. Now Judas was dead; his guilt too great; his understanding too little.
My name is Peter and I’m a disciple! I’ve known Jesus for over three years; lived with Him, worked with Him, listened to Him teaching the crowds. Loved Him. Day in and day out, eating with Him, resting with Him, watching Him work miracles; healing, raising people from the dead. He is my best friend, brother, counsellor. And I have betrayed Him.
Can I ever forget the words He spoke that night?
“This very night you will all fall away on account of Me, for it is written, I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
I can still hear my foolish tongue uttering the words,
“Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“I tell you the truth, this very night, before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.” Jesus had replied.
And I had bravely said,
“Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown You.”
The cock crows, and crows; over and over in my head. Have they crucified Him yet? Is it over?
When did I pick myself up from the hard stony ground in that narrow alleyway?
Did I run to the safety of this upper room? Am I safe?
I can still hear the cock crowing in my mind. I have betrayed Him. And the cock crows in my head to remind me.
But I have seen His face. He looked at me and on that face I saw only love, compassion and forgiveness. He has not disowned me, but has forgiven me. And I am restored. There is joy; a new beginning. And a promise that He will be with me always, even to the end of he age.
(References Matthew 26:31,33,34,35) and Matthew 28:20 NIV)