The 3 Rs put Peter back on track.
The week had been action packed. Peter and the other disciples watched Jesus enter Jerusalem to cheering crowds. They witnessed a temple cleansing and a fig tree withering. Passover was being celebrated and it was only midweek. Peter and his companions still had much to witness.
As they are having the Passover meal, Jesus delivered shocking news to Peter. Jesus told the disciples before the night ended; they would all desert him.
“Peter declared, ‘Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth. Peter, this very night before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ ‘No,’ Peter insisted, ‘even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you,’ and all the other disciples vowed the same,” records Matthew 26:33-35.
Peter didn’t understand the intensity of pressure was ramping up, and under pressure, he would live out the words Jesus said.
Luke 22 records, “So they arrested him and led him to the high priest’s home, and Peter followed at a distance. The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sit around it, and Peter joined them there. A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally, she said, ‘This man was one of Jesus’ followers.’ But Peter denied it. ‘Woman,’ he said, ‘I don’t even know him.’
After a while, someone else looked at him and said, ‘You must be one of them.’ ‘No, man, I’m not,’ Peter retorted.
About an hour later, someone insisted, ‘This must be one of them because he is a Galilean too.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ and immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
At that moment, the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind, ‘Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ And, Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.”
Have you ever had this moment? You realize a mistake has been made, and now it is time to fix it. We find in Peter’s story a pattern to follow.
As Jesus looked at Peter, Luke says Jesus’ words came back to Peter. Suddenly, he remembered the earlier conversation. He remembered his own words. He remembered Jesus’ words, and he realized he was in error.
When we are in error, our memory triggers our conscience. We remember the conversation, the words, the Lord. Suddenly, we are struck with the reality of a mistake. We remember, and what we do in this moment is up to us.
Peter left the courtyard weeping bitterly, and we know from the Gospel writers Peter repented. His sorrow turned him from the direction he was going back in the direction of the Lord. Peter allowed his sorrow to put him back on track with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow, but worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.”
We too can allow our sorrow to turn us in the direction of the Lord. This is not a sorrow we got caught in an error, but a sorrow that drives us to make things right. It creates action, alarm, and zeal in us to do the next right thing. How you and I handle sorrow in an error is up to us.
Peter remembered, he repented, and he was reconciled.
In one of his post-resurrection appearances, Jesus has an honest conversation with Peter.
“After breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter replied, ‘You know I love you.’
‘Then feed my lambs,’ Jesus told him.
Jesus repeated the question, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter said, ‘you know I love you.’
“Then take care of my sheep,’ Jesus said.
A third time he asked him, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, ‘Lord you know everything. You know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Then feed my sheep.”
When you and I turn in the direction of the Lord, he will reconcile with us. He will not leave us but run to us. Jesus’ work on the cross made it possible to reconcile with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
It is not that we make mistakes but how we handle the mistakes that makes the difference. Peter gives us a pattern to get on track, but how we handle things is up to us. How are you handling mistakes?
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