We could only guess, the kind of thoughts that raged inside his head. Danger surrounded Peter. He could have found enemies on the streets, in people he had never known. Worse still were the enemies working within him…
He had dared to follow Jesus. He had seen His power. He had seen His love. Peter believed Him to be the Messiah, who would establish His Kingdom on Earth. But instead of plotting a plan to take His deserved place, Jesus prophesied that He would die. He let Himself be taken captive by those who opposed Him.
Peter could not have understood then. When they came to arrest Jesus, He took up the sword to defend Him, cutting a ear off a servant of the high priest. But Jesus rebuked him. “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword,” He said, as He healed the wound Peter had inflicted. Jesus seemed almost as if He willed to be taken.
Peter fled the scene. His love for Jesus though, couldn’t keep him far. He must have remembered all those moments they shared. Even the moment in the boat when the Lord told him, as a man ensnared by guilt and shame, “Do not be afraid.” Jesus loved him like no one else had. He loved him in his weakness. He loved him in his strength. And Peter loved Jesus in return.
While the other disciples went into hiding, Peter followed Him to the premises of the high priest, where Jesus’ trial would be held. But that was as far as his strength could take him. When a woman recognised him as one who was with Jesus, his strength failed him. Fearing the worst, he denied even knowing the Lord. Before the rooster crowed to signal the end of that fateful night, Peter had denied Jesus thrice.
The third time, even as he was speaking, he looked in Jesus’ direction. The Lord had looked straight at him. Only hours earlier, as they shared dinner in the famous Last Supper, Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” But here he was, even the night hadn’t ended, and he had denied Jesus to His face.
And Peter went out and wept bitterly.
When he promised Jesus that he’d never leave His side, Peter truly believed that which he said. Other people may be weak enough to forsake their loved ones in the face of adversity. He would never, he must have thought. But in the end.. when it mattered the most, he did.
There is pain in disappointing the people we love. Peter must have felt that. But equally worse is the pain we feel in disappointing ourselves. Most of us could scarcely believe ourselves to be infallible. But there are certain wrongs that we could never believe we’d ever stoop to.
Each day of our life tends to add more to our understanding of who we are. Like pieces in a puzzle. Like a picture that we paint in our minds over our lifetime. But imagine, if in a matter of moments, all that you love about that picture – all that you believe to be the good in you – turned to vapour before your eyes, how would you feel..?
For all the faults he was aware of, Peter believed himself to be a man who would dare to lay down his life for the sake of those he loved. This was the man he was. This was the man he will forever be. But how wrong was he..? In the dark of that night, all it took was the suspicion of a woman to shatter the ‘Peter,’ that Peter thought he knew.
Have you ever tasted that feeling..? The despair you feel, when one fine day you stand exposed by your actions. When what you have done, belies every good you’ve ever believed yourself to be..? Emptied of all reason to ever love yourself for who you are..? Emptied of all reason to believe that those who see you for who you are, could ever love you in truth..?
In Peter’s brokenness, there are lessons to take for all of us who have ever tasted such pain…
[…continued in ‘His Light Will Shine‘]