Let’s Talk About Peter

“Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Luke 22:33-34 (NIV)

Today, on this Holy Thursday, I look to Peter, the disciple with whom I can most relate. I believe Peter truly meant what he said in the quote above – he was ready (and willing) to go to prison and to death for Jesus. The love and acceptance that Jesus had shown to Peter had changed his heart. It gave him a spirit for life that was beyond anything he had ever imagined was possible. Peter had no intention of denying his love for Jesus. All Peter wanted to do was to follow Jesus, and help Him carry His message of love. In fact, when the same moment is portrayed in the book of Matthew, Peter rebukes Jesus a second time after He speaks of the upcoming denial by saying, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” Matthew 26:35 (NIV)

As most people know, only a couple of hours after saying that, Peter denied Jesus three times, once as he looked into Jesus’s eyes. This is why I can relate to Peter. I believe in my heart that I would go to prison or be willing to be put to death if someone were to tell me that I was no longer permitted to worship Jesus as my Savior. Jesus in my heart has changed the way I look at the entire world. I know that my true peace is only with Him, so if I were told that I was not allowed to pray to Him, and follow His will for me, I would disobey that command. I mean it. Unless…

I want to believe that I would lay my life down for Jesus, just as He did for me, but I also know how human I am. What if torture was involved? What if someone had a gun pointed at my face? What if a member of my family was about to be killed? What would I do in those situations? When Jesus was arrested, the scene was horrifying for his disciples. I cannot even begin to imagine the depth of their fear as they watched their Lord led away in shackles. The fact that Peter’s fear led him to deny Jesus three times is not even that surprising. Heck, Jesus predicted it, and up until that moment, everything Jesus said actually happened.

Perhaps Peter’s denial was supposed to happen. Perhaps we needed someone to show us that you can come back from something like that. There certainly was a time in my life when I had turned my back on Jesus. As much as I loved Him, I couldn’t acknowledge Him, pray to Him, or worship Him when I was living in my active addictions.  Peter looked in the face of Jesus and denied him – and still he is known as the rock on which the Lord’s church has been built. He may have denied knowing Jesus on the night of his arrest, but Peter did end up carrying Jesus’s message to others, and eventually was put to death because of it.

I believe Peter’s story is shared in the Gospels to illustrate for all of us humans how much Jesus really does love us and accept us exactly where we are at each moment in our lives. Jesus knew Peter was going to deny Him, and He still sat down to dinner with him as friends. Jesus watched and listened as Peter denied Him, and He still appeared to him after the Resurrection. Jesus knew Peter’s heart – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and He still loved him.

I can relate most to Peter because I am Peter. My heart is just like Peter’s heart, and Jesus still loves me.


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