Luke 22:54-62 (ESV)
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
This well-known passage of Scripture details the account of Peter’s denial of Christ. The scene plays out after Jesus is arrested and led away to an illegal court. We see that Peter follows closely behind Him, finding himself in the courtyard of the high priest’s house, within earshot of the trial.
Peter is confronted by people in the crowd, who accuse him of being one of the followers of Jesus. This is Peter’s chance to defend himself and defend Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. He has been Jesus’ loudest, most fervent disciple, and doesn’t mince words or shy away from his allegiance. Peter is not one to cower or waiver upon what he believes. And yet, as the crowd presses in, he denies any knowledge of Jesus. Not just once, but three times.
The rooster crows. Peter looks up, and sees Jesus turn to look at him. At once, Peter remembers what the Lord said earlier in that same day, and realizes that he has denied his Lord to the third degree. It’s as if Jesus’ eyes were looking straight into his soul. Peter responds by weeping bitterly and fleeing the scene. In an instant, Peter was confronted by his own lack of devotion to Jesus.
Jesus did see Peter’s soul. Jesus knew that Peter would deny Him. Jesus knew that Peter and all the others would desert Him. And He knew that He would have to endure being arrested, tried, and executed.
As Jesus was looking at Peter, it wasn’t out of malice, anger, or even pity. His eyes were full of compassion and care. Jesus knew what He would have to endure and what He was doing for Peter…and for us. As Peter feels the weight of his own sin, Jesus doesn’t forsake him. Rather, He looks directly at him, knowing full well that soon the Father will turn His head and forsake Him as He bears the penalty for our sin.
We, like Peter, deny and reject Jesus in all kinds of ways. The Gospel reminds us that Jesus did not deny us, but instead calls to us in our sinful condition, pays for our sin, looks us in the eye, and tells us that He did it for us.
“…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:2-3)
With thanksgiving we cry out to You, Christ, our faithful Cornerstone.
We weep bitterly as Peter did, confessing our sins:
We are disloyal to the core.
We are seduced by the lies and allure of our fallen culture when they seem shinier or more believable than your promises.
We labor to avoid and deny You, often more than thrice.
You have freed us from the stifling chains of the world’s expectations and yet we come crawling back to our filthy prison.
But, though we deserve it, You never deny us! You are ever-present and faithful even when we are not. We don’t have to believe the lie that our value comes from the crowd’s approval, because You, Desire of Nations, have already chosen us as your beloved!
Abba, Alpha and Omega, Friend of Sinners, Father.
We pray today: build our trust. Reveal to us where our loyalty lacks. We know that the world will hate us as they’ve hated You. As we encounter persecution, strengthen us to not be surprised by the hostility but to expect it, and to stand firm on the Rock of our Refuge. When we are despised we know that we are not the first, we’re only following where you have gone before us.
When our arm grows weary with the weight of the sword,
when we ache with the weariness of holding fast against the venomous enmity, let us look to You to sustain us, and let us listen to your whisper that we are not alone.
May the judgement of the world mean little to us, because You have rooted our hope in our adoption. What greater affirmation could we need? Not only have we been chosen here and now, but You have chosen us as your cherished family for all of eternity. May we lift up our voices to You, our Kinsman and Redeemer, honoring You with our every word and song until You call us home.