By: Maggie Morrison
In Luke Chapter 22, Jesus tells Peter He already knows he will betray Him three times. Peter denies this could be possible, but through verses 55-62, we see this happen. The third denial of Jesus happens in verses 60-62: “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.” (NIV)
Growing up, hearing the story of how Peter betrayed Jesus always brought out pride in me. I never understood how Peter could betray not only his best friend who he had shared his most intimate moments with, but the true Son of God. I always thought, I would never do that! As I have grown and matured in my walk with Jesus, I have come to feel great empathy for Peter. In fact, I am Peter. We are all Peter.
“The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.” Those eyes Jesus looked at Peter with are the same eyes that have stared back at me in the mirror. I know how those eyes made Peter feel because I have felt the same pain of shame. After Jesus' eyes looked at him, verse 62 tells us Peter “wept bitterly.” I too have experienced bitter weeping over my shortcomings. I have been in that place. I am Peter. Peter failed in his human strength, and we see this vividly at the end of Luke. However, the end of this chapter is not the end of Peter. We only need to turn the page to the book of Acts to see his redemption.
Peter is an incredible depiction of the true grace of God. This is a real picture of how no sin is too big. God can truly turn even our greatest failures into our greatest opportunities. I would assume this moment of betrayal is the moment Peter carried shame over for the rest of his life. This was the one thing Peter felt was “unforgivable.” Yet, this moment set the stage for Peter to lead one of the most influential ministries of all time.
I bet one thing is for certain – after Peter wept bitterly, he stood up, dusted himself off, and rededicated his life to serving God. The gift of his failure was a new found strength and assurance and a new steadfastness that could only come through his pain. I believe the ministry Peter came to lead needed him to have experienced his shortcoming in order to develop the character and boldness God desired in his life.
Jesus knew Peter was going to deny him, and He still chose to use him. Jesus still chose to walk with Peter, teach Peter, and love Peter. Our failures are not surprises to God. In your shame, in your deepest pain, in your own “Peter moment,” God is still with you, and He sees you. Romans 8:28 (NIV) says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This was certainly true in Peter’s life, and it can be true in yours. Just like Peter, let shame be the end of a chapter, but not the completion of the story.