MYRA D. COLGATE
CHEROKEE PENTECOSTAL HOLINESS CHURCH
“Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.
“But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.
“A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, ‘This man was with him.’
“But he denied it. ‘Woman, I don’t know him,’ he said.
“A little later someone else saw him and said, ‘You also are one of them.’
“’Man, I am not!’ Peter replied.
“About an hour later another asserted, ‘Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.’
“Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.
“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.’
“And he went outside and wept bitterly.”
Luke 22:54-62 (NIV Study Bible)
It is even hard to think about how Peter must have felt at that moment when Jesus looked straight into his eyes—after his last denial. He’d begun to see earlier just how much he’d let Jesus down when he’d drawn a sword and cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus knew what was going to happen and in order to protect the impetuous Peter and His disciples from any further repercussions by Peter’s pointless and unwise action, Jesus healed the man’s ear then and there. By then, Peter had to feel utterly powerless to aid Jesus or to stop what was really happening after also seeing the rest of the disciples fleeing away from the soldiers sent to arrest Jesus. Knowing there was now nothing he could say to help fix the situation or to repair his relationship with Jesus, he wept bitterly.
Only at dawn, after that long and painful night, was Jesus roughly taken away to appear before the entire Sanhedrin in their hastily contrived and illegal ‘kangaroo’ of a trial. Even the witnesses they had gathered could not come up with any real examples of Jesus being guilty of anything treasonous, much less of breaking any laws that would be punishable by death. He was truly an innocent, sinless man, and everyone there knew it.
Jesus had already warned Peter and the disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26, and see Mark 8:34-37.)
In Luke 22:31, at the Last Supper, Jesus had also said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But, I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith many not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” This was prepared for them just before they went together to the Garden of Gethsemane, and Jesus, full of compassion for His disciple Peter, was preparing him for all the trials they would all soon be facing. He knew Peter’s heart. How much Jesus loved him, even in spite of Peter’s and all of the others’ shortcomings.
Jesus told the women who saw Him near the tomb, to tell his disciples, and Peter, to meet them at the Sea of Galilee. The miraculous catch of fish was made as Jesus was preparing to feed them there on the beach. He also fully reinstated Peter after they had all finished eating the lavish breakfast.
“Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
“Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’
Again Jesus said, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He said, “Lord, You know all things, you know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep… but…follow me! ” as He told him what was ahead for him. (John 21: 15-18.)
Jesus had, in love, forgiven and restored Peter as a leader, and yes, as a more obedient follower.