24 So Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. 25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, *said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.
Jesus is now being transferred to the second religious authority in place. We remember that Caiaphas actually predicted the death of Jesus “to save many,” although his intent wasn’t quite related to the forgiveness of sin. The details of this encounter are recorded in Matthew 26:57-68.
There is a very good reason why we enjoy this part of the story so much. It isn’t learning the history of religious and political hierarchy in Roman times. It isn’t even necessarily because Peter denies Jesus and therefore fulfills what Jesus said at the last supper. It is because we all identify with verse 27. This is that moment when you know you have done something wrong. Matthew’s version of the story adds Peter’s reaction, “And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” That moment we realize our sinfulness is a pretty helpless one. It is helpless because we are powerless against it on our own.
I identify with Peter a lot. I have a lot of zeal for the people I love and the things I believe in. Too often, however, it gets me in trouble because it blinds me. This isn’t to mean that my zeal itself is sinful, but rather my actions as a result of it are. Many times throughout the bible we see Peter and his love for Jesus, but he keeps missing the mark. He has ideas in his head of what is right and wrong, yet over and over Jesus say, “bro, you’re missing the point.” Here we see Peter facing the fact that despite his passion for Jesus, he still isn’t able to be perfect in it on his own. I’ve learned a lot studying the interactions between Jesus and Peter as I continue to read the bible. I feel that I am at a point that Paul described in Romans 7, “14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”
Do you have this war inside you? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t have any conviction over your own actions. You have guarded yourself against those moments of knowing when you have done wrong to someone, even God Himself. It certainly exists, whether or not you exist it. The great thing about it, however, is that we have been offered the solution. We have been offered the victory to this war. We have been offered healing from that helpless and powerless moment we realize we have done wrong. Too often, however, we neglect the solution.
Those who haven’t accepted it think that this is just the way life is: burdensome, tough, survival of the fittest, etc. Maybe you don’t believe because it doesn’t make sense to the sinful way of life. It is too good to be true…indeed it is, but it is true. I say it is true because I experience it every day, not because Paul said that is the way it is, but because it is the way it is!
For those who have accepted the solution, why do we constantly forget that Jesus has overcome these things? As we read this story of Peter denying Jesus, we think of the ways we have and continue to deny Him, then we weep or brush it off because we don’t want to face it. However, we forget that it’s not the end of the story! For me, it helps me realize the weight and wonder of God’s love. Even though I do these things, He still loves me as His firstborn! There is freedom and power in that.
Jesus says, “don’t cry my child, for I love you more than you can ever know and I will never leave or forsake you. Even though you act against me, my love for you is more than anything you have and will do against me and I just want to pour my love out on you. My sadness and hatred towards the things you do are not aimed at you; I don’t condemn you for the things you do, rather I hate what they do to you. I see you burdened and weary. I see you sad and broken. I love you and it kills me to see you that way. Come to me child, it is ok. My arms are always open for you to walk into my embrace and know the love I have for you which takes it all away.”
Will you deny His love today?