Peter was one of the more flamboyant disciples that Jesus had. His heart was on his sleeve at all times. If he thought something, he said it. The filter between his mind and his mouth was, indeed, very very thin. There would be spurts of brilliance as God impressed upon his heart; and then there were other periods of mediocrity as he spoke his own mind. He gets praise for his brilliance and often flak for his falls.
No other fall of his was greater than that on that cold Thursday night, as his Lord was undergoing a farce trial in the inner audience chamber of the High Priest’s Palace. His colleague, John, and he had come together to the Palace. Through the influence of John, Peter obtained access to the inner court of the Palace, but instead of staying with John who tried to get as close to Jesus as possible, Peter slowed down. Instead, Peter found himself in the company of those who were warming themselves around a charcoal fire, outside and below the inner chambers.
It was in this particular setting, that the infamous story occurred. He seemed to be out of place and vaguely familiar to some of the people who had seen Jesus and his crew. When asked about his affiliations with Jesus, who was now falsely accused, Peter denied. Not once, but three times. The third time with curses. And it was not like he had no time to ruminate what he had said. He had about an hour between the 2nd and the third denials. The third time, therefore, was a deliberate, calculated statement. Since Jesus had already warned him about the impending fiasco that was playing out, after the third denial, the cock crowed, as predicted. Jesus then turned and looked at Peter – and the flood of remembrance and despair drowned his soul and he was bitterly disappointed. After this scene, we find Peter only after Jesus was raised from the dead – such was the fall of the once close friend.
Regardless, this was a lesser evil. You see, Peter actually had 3 options that night after Jesus had predicted his denial. One option was to stay as close to Jesus as possible. The second option was the one that Peter took – staying in the vicinity of Christ, but not that close. The third option, was for him to have gone back home in fear of denying Him.
For the numerous believers who, for the last 2000 years, have critiqued the actions of a fickle Peter, there are many who have “safely” taken the third option.
Yes, there is no overt denial of Him in front of others, but there is the subtle denial of Him behind everyone. It is better to fall like Peter did and come roaring back, than to fall unseen in the shadows of self-righteous complacence and remain in defeat. Those who sneer at his public failure are many times guilty of keeping their faith in the closet.
The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.”
62 And he went out and wept bitterly.