The scene was set. The wedding was to take place on a Hawaiian Beach. In an hour she was to be married to her best friend, the love of her life. Then disaster struck. Her fiancé walked into her room and said, “I just can’t do this.” After all the preparations, all the expense, he said he couldn’t do it and walked out of her life one hour before the wedding. It was only then that she realized that he had already taken his clothes and passport. He was gone. Her dreams and hopes were shattered.
Leaving someone at the altar like that happens when someone goes back on their word. They gave their word that they would commit to their partner for life, and then they left before that life began. Peter gave his word to Jesus that he would stay true to Him no matter what. Jesus told Peter that he would fail and deny Him, not once, but three times. And then it began. Jesus was arrested and Peter was out in the courtyard warming his hands. Three times he was asked if he was with Jesus. The first two times he denied it. Then, after the third time, he responded again. “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.” (Luke 22:60-62)
Peter was one of the closest disciples to Jesus. He was brash and outspoken at times, but his faith was almost always strong. On this night, though, doubt overwhelmed him and he denied Jesus – not once but three times. As soon as Peter heard the rooster, he looked Jesus in the eye and remembered the words that Jesus had said and his own boast. In his weakness, he left the group and wept. As sad as this tale is, the seeds of redemption were sown in the tears of sorrow. The look of Jesus was not condemnation or an “I told you so” look; that look was full of love and forgiveness. Peter failed, but Jesus still loved him. Peter didn’t keep his word, and Jesus still loved him.
It is part of human nature that we will fail, that we will sin. Sometimes we do it quietly and only God knows our sin. When we don’t live up to what we say we believe, when we fail in our quest to follow Jesus, we will experience God’s presence. Adam and Eve ran from God in the garden when they had sinned. God looked on them with mercy. David fasted and prayed hoping that God would spare his son. While the son died, God had mercy on David in the long run. Whatever you may have done, when you feel God looking at you in the midst of your sin, know that He is looking at you not to condemn you, but to offer you mercy and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how bad your sin may be, God is seeking you to show you His mercy. David was a murderer and an adulterer, but God forgave him. Paul persecuted Christians, dragging them away from their families and in front of the courts. He was complicit in the stoning of Stephen, yet he was chosen as an apostle by God. There is mercy and grace for all who call on His name. That means, that no matter what you’ve done, you never need to live in fear of God; you can always seek and obtain His forgiveness and mercy.
Oh Lord, like Peter I’ve failed You. Forgive me when I sin and renew me. Let me feel the presence of Your Spirit as You renew my heart and my mind.
Daily Devotion by Bob James