At what moment in your life were you the most disappointed in yourself? When did you desperately want a Do Over, or a super-efficient Delete button to empty a space you’d filled with humiliating behavior?
For Simon Peter, the answer would surely be these moments in the high priest’s courtyard when he denies being a disciple of Jesus three times. It might have been understandable—maybe—if he’d hedged the truth once. But no, he lies three times in bold print and capital letters. So much for Captain Heroic with his fervent pledge of fidelity and his flashing sword of valor. He is now exposed as simply a big-talking, spineless fisherman, guilty of a thrice-repeated, Jesus-disowning lie.
Probably the only thing about this story which hasn’t been indelibly etched in our memory is who reported it. The “other” disciple who is mentioned in this story, who effects Peter’s entrance into the courtyard, appears to have gone on into the high priest’s chambers (and thus reports the questioning there). So, Simon alone was left within that “cold” courtyard. No one but he knew who said what to whom. Most especially, no one else knew how miserably he failed the test of this crucial hour. Simon told this story on himself!
I believe he did so to give others hope. No one is always loyal, always faithful and brave as a disciple of Jesus. Not even Simon Peter. Nonetheless, out of the devastation of that deeply disappointing night, Jesus still sculpted a trustworthy leader and useful servant. That’s what Simon still wants you and me to know—that no worst moment is the defining moment of our life. Not if Jesus is around.
At what times has the presence and power of Jesus lifted you up and helped you live your way out of shameful circumstances?
“If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered” (Ps 130:3-4). Amen.