2013-01-17 - Peter's Tears
Matt 26:74 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times. And he went out and wept bitterly. (NASB)
Peter had just denied Jesus for the third time as Jesus predicted, the last one with a curse. He was gripped by mortal fear and said what he had to say to try to save his life. His shame after his bold promise to die with Jesus if that was required, only a few hours ago, must have been crushing. Peter had disappointed the One he had identified as Messiah (Matt 16:17); the long awaited Savior of the Jewish people that had called, befriended and taught this fisherman.
Tonight I was struck by the question - what made Peter so terribly, bitterly sad. I'm told the phase "wept bitterly" translated here could be read more like convulsive racking sobs. Change the question to - what had Peter lost? What had he lost indeed. The answer is devastating.
Peter had been chosen by Jesus, just as we who are His children all are chosen, to be one of the first twelve of Jesus' disciples. After three years of quite literally walking in His footsteps, learning as he taught the crowds and separately with the other eleven over meals or small groups, having the Father's love demonstrated in front of him and to him, having performed miracles in Jesus name - what he had lost was utterly priceless. He had thrown that irreplaceable eternal relationship away for the temporal. Even if Jesus would forgive Peter his fear was that things could never be the same between them. If Peter were not forgiven, the answer to what he had lost was unspeakable.
Are we afraid of losing that close relationship, or do we fear that we've already tarnished it? Is there unfinished business between you and God? Are there sins that have become so comfortable that we don't really see them anymore?
1 John 4:18 tells us that perfect love casts out all fear. Our love is not perfect yet but is made more so by spending time with God in Bible reading and discussion with other believers, and prayer - talking to God and listening. Listening is so important that Jesus guarded Mary's desire to sit at Jesus' feet as Martha asked for help with serving the house guests. There is a time for work, but there is a time to listen.
I keyed "perfect love" into a Bible search and got six verses (NASB) that encourage Christians to guard that relationship. I encourage you to find them too. Put those things that don't belong in your life aside. Don't nitpick into legalism worrying about trivial things, but give place to things that deserve it and the things that don't will probably fall away.
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (NASB)
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.