Good Friday Meditation On Peter (First person on Peter)
April 3 2015
I can not believe what I did! When Jesus needed me to stand up for Him and tell others that I was His follower, on that night Jesus was on trial, I did not stand up for Him or tell others I knew Him. No, I denied Him. Just hours before I had told Jesus that, even if everyone else abandoned Him, I would not –and then in the Garden when Jesus was arrested I drew a sword and was ready to fight for Him, but when it came time for me to stand up for Him and tell everyone I knew Him, I denied Him.
I – who had seen Jesus work miracles and heard him teach about God and even confessed that He was God’s son, denied Him when I should have told the world what I knew about Him. Instead of denying Him I should have said “Yes – I am His follower!” – but instead I denied Him. 3 times. 3 times. I can’t believe what I did!
You have never met me, but I am sure you know by now who I am. I am Peter, the disciple of Jesus and a leader of the early Church. Peter, who Jesus called “the rock”. Peter, “the rock”, who crumbled when Jesus needed me.
I want to share with you my story in hopes that I can help you in your faith in Christ.
I first met Jesus one day while my bother Andrew and I were fishing. We were fisher men by trade, trying to make a living catching fish in the Sea of Galilee. One day Jesus came by and called us to follow Him. We were not sure who He was or where He was going, but we dropped everything and followed. Before long others were following also, and we heard Him teach marvelous things about God, much different things than the religious leaders taught. We also saw Him perform miracles like healing the blind and lame and even bringing the dead back to life. Once Jesus asked us who we thought He was, and I said that He had to be the Son of God! Not long after that Jesus took me and James and John up a mountain and we saw Him transfigured and even saw Moses and Elijah talking to Him. Yes, I believed He was the Son of God.
But I did not really understand what that meant. Jesus began talking about beig crucified and began traveling to Jerusalem. I told Him that He could not be crucified, but He quickly and sternly told me to follow Him instead of trying to make Him fit my opinion of what the Son of God would do.
We finally made it to Jerusalem in time to celebrate the Passover. Our arrival in Jerusalem was on the day you call Palm Sunday. It was late March, the cold of winter still lingered but the fresh golden ears of barley were just starting to show in the Judean fields. On the night of the Passover we were to meet in an upstairs banquet room of a private home. John and I had made all the preparations. As we entered the room and then reclined at the table my friends and I had begun a rather heated debate about who the greatest in Jesus kingdom would be. It was evident to us that Jesus was upset over our bickering. He suddenly rose from the table and filled a basin with water. Then he did what only a slave would normally do – He proceeded to wash our feet. The irony of Him doing this was lost on no one. Our beloved teacher, the one we thought was the Son of God — was washing the feet of his disciples. When he knelt to wash my feet I could not bear the thought of Jesus stooping to wash my soiled feet and insisted, “Never shall you wash my fee!” But Jesus answered, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me Peter.” Then I blurted out, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.”
Soon Judas left the room, although at that point we did not know why. After that we also left to go to the Garden of Gethsemane. As we walked along the way Jesus said that we would all fall away. With steel in my voice I shot back at him, “Even though all may fall away, yet I will not. Even if I have to die with You. I will not deny You!” but Jesus looked directly at me and said, “Peter, I say to you that this very night before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times”
No way I would do this, I thought to myself. No way.
When we arrived at the garden Jesus asked me and James and John to withdraw and pray with him. I must admit that I had a difficult time staying awake as Jesus prayed. Suddenly I was aroused by what sounded to be a marching army. I looked up and found that we were surrounded by smoking torches and Roman guards and there in the midst of them was Judas himself. He walked over to Jesus and kissed Him on the cheek. They began to move towards Jesus and I thought I would fight them off. I jumped up and pulled a short sword out and struck the man who was closest to me. It was indeed his lucky night I was aiming for his head but caught only his ear and separated it from his body. Much to my disdain, the Jesus healed him.
Jesus was arrested and out of fear for our lives we all ran. Panting like flushed deer we narrowly made our escape. We watched intently as the line of flickering torches snaked its way back across the Kidron Valley toward the high walls of Jerusalem. Jesus was a now a prisoner of the Sanhedrin. I followed the party from a distance, staying as close as I dared but staying in the shadows as they drew near the high priest’s house. The guard at the gate granted entrance into the court yard, but you cannot imagine how my heart beat with fear within my chest. Just being near Jesus at this point was tantamount to placing my head in a hangman’s noose. Yet I was determined to pursue as close as I dared.
I nervously warmed myself by a charcoal fire. The rowdy soldiers surrounded me celebrating their arrest of Jesus. I drew my cloak about me, praying that I would not be recognized. Twice I was asked if I was follower of Jesus. Twice I brusquely denied knowing him. Finally I was confronted by a woman who was a relative to the servant whose ear I had severed. She had recognized a Galilean accent in my voice. Seized by panic, I began to curse and insist, “I do not know this man you are talking about!”
At that very moment the crow of the rooster was heard throughout the entire courtyard. I remembered how Jesus had told me that I would deny him 3 times before the roster crowed. Jesus turned and looked directly at me. How could I have done it? How could I have been so unfaithful as to deny him after He had done so much for me? I ran and ran and I wept and I wept. I knew I had betrayed his trust and had denied everything I claimed to believe. I was overcome with guilt and the anguish. I felt that I was no different than Judas. I had denied Him. I had deserted Him. I had betrayed His love.
Throughout the night Jesus was brutally beaten and put on trial. He was shuffled from one place to the next until in the morning Pilate stood Him before an unruly mob and offered to exchange him for a known insurrectionist, and for a moment I thought perhaps He would be set free. They cried out for the release of Barabbas. I finally found the courage to cry out for Jesus to be released, but it was too little and too late. The Sadducees had underhandedly planted their followers throughout the multitude there and they cried out for Jesus’ crucifixion, so He was led away and nailed to a cross, and I watched Him die.
I was devastated.
You might want to ridicule me for not standing up for Jesus when He needed me. You are free to do that. But before you do that you might want to look at yourself and the ways you deny Jesus every day. You may have heard it said that when you point a finger at someone you have 4 pointing back at yourself, so be careful when you point fingers at me.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to say that I did not do something that was wrong in denying Jesus. I did, and I know it. What I am saying is that, before you make me out to be the only person who has denied Jesus, you had better look at your own life. One thing I can tell you is that Jesus calls those who follow Him to give their lives to Him and to follow Him all the time, and to tell others about Him. Maybe you should look at your life and how well you stand up for Him.
For example –
How many times have you chosen to do the things of God that are easy to do and that you think will make you look good and popular –and chosen not to do the things that may be difficult or unpopular?
How many times do you listen while others say things about Jesus that are wrong, or take His or God’s name in vain, but ben afraid to say something or stand up for what you know is right?
Home many times have you hidden your faith, so to speak, because you thought it would be unpopular to talk about it?
I could go on and on, but I think you understand my point. My denial of Jesus was terribly wrong, but so is every action that you make that does not honor Christ or every action you choose not to make that would be of service to Christ.
Well you know the rest of the story. Jesus was God’s Son and rose again from the dead. Jesus forgave me for denying Him and when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost I became one of the most vocal followers of Jesus. What love Jesus had for me to forgive me and use me – even me – the one who had denied Him – as a leader for His Church. Yes, my denial helped nail Jesus to the cross. I denied Him, and He died. But He also died because of your sins. Your sins nailed Him to the cross just a much as mine did. Jesus did not have to go to the cross to die but He chose to die so that my sins and your sins and the sins of all people could be forgiven. So before you condemn me for denying Jesus, look at what you have done, your sins that have nailed Him to the cross, and ask Him to forgive you. Ask Him to forgive you, and Justas He forgave and contimued to use me, He will forgive and continue to use you also. Amen.