Peter has always been one of my favorite disciples. Between Peter and John, I always get a good laugh when I read the Gospels. Peter, the impulsive, passionate, will-try-anything-once guy finds himself in trouble a lot. Remember when Jesus asked him to walk on the water? Without thinking, he jumps out of the boat and walks on the water. Then, he starts thinking. Oops.
When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, it was Peter who cut of the guard’s ear. Gross. Jesus once again had to fix Peter’s impulsive actions.
But there is a part of the Holy Week story that involves Peter that is sometimes missed. We all know the main plot, but there is an interesting twist at the end that speaks volumes about Jesus’ friendship and love for Peter.
At the Last Supper, Jesus tells Peter that He has prayed for him because Satan has asked to “sift him like wheat.” Jesus reassures Peter saying, “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when you once have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” This is the moment in the story when Peter exclaims that he would go to prison and even death for Jesus. Jesus, however, tells Peter that he will deny Him three times before the rooster crows.
So Jesus is arrested. Peter cuts off the guard’s ear. Jesus glues it back on. Jesus is taken away and the disciples scatter. Peter follows Jesus to the house of the high priest. While Jesus is questioned, Peter warms himself by the fire. Three times he is asked about his relationship with Jesus. Three times he denies he even knows Him. Immediately a rooster crows. Luke’s account says that “the Lord turned and looked at Peter.” Their eyes met. Peter leaves and weeps. He is devastated.
Ever sin so big you weren’t sure if God would even like you anymore, let alone love you?
As the story continues, Jesus is crucified and Peter has to live with the fact that his last moments with Jesus were that of denial and cowardice. Imagine what that would feel like. How badly would that sting?
Mark’s account of the resurrection gives us an amazing image of Jesus. On Easter Sunday, two women went to the tomb of Jesus to anoint His body with spices. When they arrived, the stone was missing and a young man, dressed in a white robe, was sitting inside the tomb. This angel explained that Jesus was no longer there but He was risen from the dead. And then he said something amazing: “But go, tell His disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you to Galilee.”
Wait. Peter was one of the disciples. Why would the angel separate him out that way?
God knew how overwhelmed Peter was by his last interaction with Jesus. He understood the heartache and regret. He saw the deep pain in Peter’s passionate heart. It was as if to say, “Go tell His disciples that He’s alive. But especially make sure that Peter knows. Tell Peter it’s okay.” That’s the kind of friend Jesus is.
If you have not lived up to your end of the deal with God, if you are wondering if your lack of faithfulness will turn God against you, consider Peter. If you have great intentions and keep messing up, don’t forget Peter. If you are a fickle crowd member, praising Jesus as Messiah one day and yelling to have Him crucified the next, you can’t beat Peter’s record. And don’t forget the kind of friend Jesus is when we have failed Him. He especially wants us to know that it’s okay.
If you don’t know Jesus like this, He is offering you an invitation. Easter is the perfect time to accept it. He will be your friend no matter what.