We try to live lives for God rightly and fail. The concept is good and the feelings are sincere. Those feelings can be even more solidified when we vow. “I promise I will not drink too much. I promise I will not freak out in anger.” Fill in your blank. Below is the “blank” experienced by Simon Peter.
Mark 14:30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice[e] you yourself will disown me three times.”
31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
So what is the worth of that effort? It is not worthless. When Peter got up that morning he had a disposition in his heart to be a good disciple. He tried and failed which is better than not at all. Judas was a corrupt disciple for a long time before the Last Supper so his outright betrayal is no surprise.
Luke 22: 60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
When Peter weeps bitterly, he did that because he had parts that compliment the gospel. But a biography of Jesus without the cross, resurrection and its significance is not the gospel but just a biography.
Peter weeps bitterly because Jesus his hero is becoming a victim and he feels complicit. End of story. A few days before Peter got promoted, then rebuked, then reiterated his loyalty hours before. But to deny Jesus with these rollercoaster experiences put him in overload of the guilt variety.
I want to close with Jesus’ grace and Peter’s amnesia. Jesus’ grace is available to all of us but the angle may be different. Fundamentally, His grace is there to comfort us in suffering, empower us to resist temptation and directive for us to pass it on. Below is how it was meant by Jesus earlier that night.
But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
I have read in a few teachings that the word “strengthen” is confirm as in a confirming of an office. That office of the apostle and what Catholics call apostolic succession includes being a sacramental sign of forgiveness. Jesus knew Peter’s inadequacies and He knows ours. Now that we know what John 3:16 means, do what you can by faith to see the turning of Jesus and his gaze. But not in condemnation but knowing that He loves you and there is hope. Religion that is not based on the cross will give us amnesia and we will be stuck with a biography and not the good news of Jesus. Instead, remember that Jesus loves sinners, that means you, and be confident that He can restore you.