By most standards, he blew it.
He seems to have been a bold one — charging ahead, seemingly without concern, the proverbial bull-in-the-china-shop with his own foot firmly in his mouth. Misspeaking was common, his overstepping of bounds was likely expected, and if one knew him, it seems that his generally-brash demeanor would come as no big surprise. Peter was quick to say exactly what was on his mind at any given moment. But then he went too far, even for himself.
Jesus had been taken captive and the mock trial before His crucifixion had begun. There, in the courtyard of the high priest, Peter was warming himself by a fire (John 18:18). And it was there that the accusations against Peter began from the bystanders…
“This man was with Him too.”
“You are one of them too!”
“Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.”
Just a little while earlier, Peter had proclaimed that he would never fall away from Jesus. In the presence of Jesus, he had “said emphatically, ‘If I must die with you, I will not deny you’” (Mark 14:31). Now, later the same night, when faced with potential harm in being identified as a follower of Christ, Peter began to protest when the accusations came. Ultimately, he swore to those around him and said, “I do not know the man” (Matthew 26:74).
The one Peter walked upon stormy waves to meet.
The one he had watched raise the dead.
The one Peter himself had proclaimed to be the very Son of God.
And yet he said, “I do not know the man.”
Only in the book of Luke do we find a little detail about the response of Jesus to this denial: “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Luke 22:61a). No words, no head-shaking — just a look. Peter’s response was to leave and weep bitterly over his actions.
How many times do we do the same? Given an opportunity to stand for Christ, we take the fearful way out. When confronted about our beliefs, we opt for a timid response. Presented with a temptation, we say “no” to Christ instead of denying ourselves.
When we do those things and experience failure, it is easy to believe that we have blown it for good. We think there is no coming back from that kind of mistake.
But another chance is still available to us…just as it was available to Peter.
When the women who first entered the tomb of Jesus found it empty, an angel told them that He had risen from the dead. Then the angel gave them a command, “Go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee” (Mark 16:7a).
Only two words, yet packed with infinite grace.
A statement of mercy offered to a disciple torn by his past actions. Peter was singled out in the message and shown that even in his denial, Christ would never deny him. Forgiveness was available and free.
Jesus had not forgotten him.
Where is it that you have failed? How have you denied Christ by your actions, words or attitude? What weighs heavy on your heart as a mistake of epic proportions?
Maybe you need to write your name in the space where Peter’s name was and be reminded that you can experience the mercy offered after a hurtful mistake, an ill-spoken word or a tragic sin. He has not forgotten you, so remember His grace.