Remembering Peter

This Easter, in addition to celebrating the Resurrection, we should also remember the Apostle Peter. This disciple, considered the spokesperson for Jesus' disciples, loved Jesus deeply. It was Peter who correctly declared that Jesus was "... the Christ, the son of the living God." When the guards of the Sanhedrin came to arrest Jesus, Peter slashed off the ear of the high priest's servant trying to protect Jesus. When the crowd took Jesus away for trial, Peter followed at a distance and bravely stood near the trial to hear what might happen to his friend. He stubbornly protested Jesus’ death.

Yet, Peter also disowned Jesus:

The Denial of Saint Peter, by Caravaggio

Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”

But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.

A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”

“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.

About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. Luke 22: 54 - 62

This is not where Peter's story ends. After Peter found out that the Lord's body was missing, he remembered that Jesus had said that he would rise from the dead. He raced to the tomb to see what had happened. The Bible says that Peter believed after seeing the empty burial wrappings. When Jesus later appeared to the disciples, he addressed the matter of Peter's guilt over the disowning. He told Peter to brush himself off and fulfill his calling. Peter did this. We see in later scriptures that although he still had struggles, Peter never denied his Lord again. Tradition says that Peter refused to allow the Romans to crucify him right side up. Instead, he chose an upside down crucifixion because he felt that he was not worthy to die the same way as did Jesus.

This Easter, remember Peter not only for disowning Jesus, but because he did not let guilt dissuade him. Peter trusted Jesus. He accepted Jesus' forgiveness. He forgave himself. The Bible shows us that Peter was fully human in that he still made mistakes, but he was willing to learn from them and keep going.

This post was originally published on the Create in Christ team blog February 22, 2013

Are we like Peter or do we let the sins of our pasts block us from fulfilling our calling?

Lord, help us to forgive ourselves as you forgive us. Amen.