It was very early in the morning on Friday as Peter followed Jesus from a distance. Much has happened in a few hours. The Passover feast. The argument among the apostles of who would be the greatest in the Kingdom. Jesus’ washing of the Disciples’ feet to teach them humility and service.
Now after Jesus’ agonizing prayer in Gethsemane, He is arrested. Betrayed with a kiss by one of Peter’s fellow apostles, Judas Iscariot. The Master is led away to answer charges from the Jewish Supreme Court, The Sanhedrin. He accused of blasphemy. Condemned to death. And disrespected by their ugly taunts. Spat upon. And slapped.
I wonder as Peter warmed by the fire if he was thinking of his earlier boast, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” When Jesus predicted that before the rooster crowed twice, he would deny Him three times. Peter vehemently objected saying, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
Whatever his silent ruminations they are interrupted by a servant girl who said, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” Peter quickly denied it and said “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” As he left the fire, a little later, he was accused of being “one of them.” Again, Peter denied it. Shortly, those standing by said, “You are one of his disciples, aren’t you?” For the third time, Peter denied Jesus, cursing and swearing that he didn’t know him.
At that very moment, the rooster crowed for the second time, and Dr. Luke records that Jesus turned and looked at Peter. Then he remembered Jesus’ words. The scripture says that he “went out and wept bitterly.”
That must have been the worse Friday in Peter’s entire life. It was marked by cowardice. Weakness. Denial. Wonder what his thoughts were through the rest of the day. During Jesus scourging? His crucifixion? His burial?
And I imagine Saturday wasn’t much better.
But then came Sunday. Suddenly Peter hears the cries of Mary Magdalene. “The tomb is empty! Jesus is gone.” Peter and John run as fast as they can to the tomb. Peter marvels at the empty tomb. Then that very Sunday evening, Peter sees Jesus alive. “Peace be with you,” are the first words out of his mouth. Thus, begins the redemption and restoration of Peter.
As I ponder this narrative, I think how many “Fridays” I’ve denied Jesus. Either by word. Or deed. Or thought. Times I’ve let Him down. Occasions when I should have spoken up, but didn’t. Or times I said things that I later regretted. We’ve all experienced those “Fridays” in our lives. Haven’t you?
But Peter’s story provides me the promise of a better tomorrow. Forgiveness is possible. Redemption is near. Restoration is around the corner. Sunday’s coming! I will come into the presence of Jesus on Sunday. He will offer me peace. Pardon. Power. I can begin again. I can find hope. Help. Healing.
Yes, it’s Friday! But I’m thankful, that Sunday’s coming! Aren’t you?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman