Peter

Wed, 04/20/2011 - 20:27 — Carrie

    

    

Ah, Peter. They great betrayer. The one who thrice denied any knowledge of his Lord. Isn't this the same Peter who sank in the waves for lack of faith? Isn't this the same Peter, of "get thee behind me, Satan" fame? The same Peter whom Paul rebuked in the Acts, for inconsistent living? Yup. That's the Peter I'm talking about.

So let's set the stage. The last supper is over. This is the last supper where, while in the midst of vehemently proclaiming (along with the other disciples) that he would never forsake his Lord, Jesus turns sadly to Peter and tells him that before the cock crows, Peter will have betrayed him three times. Peter is aghast. He simply can't believe it! But we'll come back to that.

So the supper is over, and Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus does not take all his disciples with him into the midst of the garden... just a few. Peter, John, and James. The rest he left outside the garden. Once he had come in, he told the three to wait and pray, and he would go in a little farther to pray. He was very upset, and told the disciples so. 

And so Jesus went in to pray. It's not a very long prayer that he prayed. He simply asked God to take this cup from him, if it were possible. Yet he was willing to do it, if that's what God wanted. Three times he went and prayed this. Each time, when he was done, he came back and found the disciples asleep and woke them, asking very sadly if they couldn't even stay awake for a little bit. 

The disciples, of course, had no idea what was about to happen. They didn't understand the importance of waiting up with Jesus. The third time Jesus came to them, however, things started to happen. 

First, Judas and the soldiers show up. There's the infamous kiss of betrayal, and the arrest. Then Peter, in his zeal, slices off the ear of one of the servants present. For this he gets a mild rebuke. Jesus asks Peter, "don't you think I could call legions of angels if I wanted to?". I'm sure this made the disciples wonder greatly, since they couldn't imagine why Jesus would let himself be taken in such a secretive way. They certainly knew what he was capable of. 

Then, Jesus is taken away. It appears that the other disciples are no longer present. Perhaps they ran off, perhaps the hid, it's not really clear. The bible does point out one thing, though. Peter follows them. At a distance, of course, for fear of detection.

Jesus is taken into the palace of the high priest, and Peter sneaks into the courtyard. On the way in, he's greeted by the girl watching the door. Not the kind of greeting he wants to get, though. He's scared, he has no idea what's happening, his leader was just arrested and taken away, he probably didn't figure he ought to be in the courtyard in the first place, and suddenly, this random girl fixes him with her stare and says, "Hey, aren't you one of Jesus' disciples?"

It's Peter's big moment. The next couple minutes are what he is most famous for. This is his chance to prove that what he promised Jesus was true, and he would never deny his Lord. And he fails.

"No! Of course not!" The girl shrugs. No difference to her. Peter goes on, still probably terrified of everything around him. Maybe second guessing his decision to follow Jesus so far. 

It's a chilly night, and as long as he's there, he figures he might as well go up to the fire and warm himself. But again, he's met with that terrifying question, "Aren't you one of Jesus' disciples?" 

Again, he denies it. Perhaps he backs away from the fire, perhaps he just moves to the side, but suddenly, for the third time, he's met with the question he dreads. "Didn't I see you in the garden tonight with Jesus? Aren't you one of his disciples?"

Three times asked, and three times denied. And then, suddenly, the cock crows. But that's not even the worst part. Just as the realization of the truth washes over him, just as the remembrance of Jesus words just a few short hours earlier come back to him, Peter looks up. There, surrounded by guards, walking from one part of the palace to another, is his Master. The very one he just betrayed is just on the other side of the courtyard looking straight at Peter. In that awful moment, Peter realizes that Jesus knows what happens. The look of disappointment that must have been evident on Jesus face, combined with the awful sense of what he had just done, overwhelmed Peter.

And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

 

Let's take a moment and look at Peter for a minute. Ya know, Peter is pretty much my favorite bible character, next to Jesus. Want to know why? Cause Peter is like me. Well, kinda. He's actually a much better person than me. But Peter fails, and we see that failure. 

I admire Peter. A lot. See, Peter fell. Over and over he falls, he fails. Yet Peter tries.

Yeah, Peter sank in the water, but hey, he's the only one who got out of the boat! And, even if only for a short time, he did walk on water! None of the other disciples can say that!

He was rebuked as being the mouthpiece of Satan, yet he's the disciple who, when Jesus asked who they thought he was, boldly opened his mouth and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of God."

He was rebuked by Paul in Acts for compromising his beliefs, but he was also the one who stood up on the day of Pentecost and preached the first real sermon. 

He denied Jesus three times, but he was the only disciple who followed Jesus to that courtyard! 

I'm not trying to excuse Peter. What he did was very wrong, and he certainly payed for it.  What I am trying to say is, Peter gets a pretty bad rap for what he did, especially this betrayal, but haven't we all failed in similar ways? We cheat, we're hypocrites, we lie. We pretend to do one thing, but don't really believe it, or do it for the right reasons. We act all holy, but deep down, we're no better than Peter.   

I identify with Peter a lot. I mess up a lot. But look who Peter became! He went on to be one of the pillars of the very first church. One of the spiritual greats, if you will.  I guess it gives me some encouragement. When I fail, I'll be forgiven, in a big way. 

So don't knock Peter too much, cause none of us are any better, or probably would have fared any better than he did. 

       


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