It’s hard for me to put into words the emotion I felt when I read of what happen to Peter after–after the denial, after the break down–Joy at his redemption? Grief at my own heart being just like his?
Most likely gratitude for a Savior who sees who I am but also sees my potential.
I would have done the same thing Peter did, or worse, I probably would have been one of the 11 who scattered, or worse yet, I very well could have been Judas. Who knows. But this week’s study in Mark 14 was dense, heavy, took a while to process and still while recapping, I feel like I’ve mentally blocked certain parts out because the chapter moves so quickly: from the nagging reminder of the chief priests wanting somehow to find a way to arrest Jesus, to a broken alabaster jar, to the Lord’s Supper, Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane for this cup of death to be removed from him, to his arrest, “trial” before the Sanhedrin and finally the details of Peter’s denial. It’s a lot to take in, and Jesus lived it.
There are so many rich lessons in this chapter, but I want to concentrate on Peter, the Rock. Our study guide put it in this way, “His failure is always emphasized within this context but, from another perspective, his failure is known only because he demonstrated courage.” While all the other disciples fled, Peter stayed behind to at least see how Jesus was doing–I can’t imagine the fear that presided over his heart to see his best friend, his teacher, his mentor arrested for no good reason, while realizing that one of the “trusted 12” was the one responsible for this–and every conversation that Jesus had had with his disciples about the end flashing through his brain. What was it that compelled Peter to stay?
We don’t know, we only know that Jesus saw it coming…
Jesus had said to him in Luke 22:32, “When you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Here, our study guide refers us to Acts 4:1-22, and this is where the tears flow in gratitude as Jesus’ personal commission to Peter is fulfilled (emphasis mine):
The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.
The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: Is is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
[Here is where, if I were in the courtroom, you’d hear me whoop and holler and get led out by the 1st Century equivalent of the bailiff]
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.”
They had them taken away, conferred among themselves, saying that even though they have healed someone that the whole town knows was lame, that they must stop them from spreading the name of Jesus, so they call them back in and continue to bully them into being silent.
But Peter and John were not deterred.
Keep reading, my friends, the rest of this 4th chapter of Acts is POWERFUL.
So, not only does Peter defend himself, he delivers the gospel message, confounds the Sanhedrin who tries to silence him and he and John are let go after further threats.
Like a bull in a china shop, Peter bullies his way through this court and he is victorious. Our God is victorious. If this isn’t boldness, I don’t know what is.
And so, I here I stand, afraid to speak to the girl in the checkout line when He prompts me to–what do I do? Where do I start? “Jesus loves you, he really does, he died for you. He has a plan for you and joy unspeakable.” But why do I hesitate and feel paralyzed? Why do I back down and leave? It’s fear. Fear that she will judge me like all the other “religious” people she has ever encountered. Those who look at her rough exterior and immediately look away.
Am I any better when I can’t even find the words to say?