“And he broke down and wept.” v. 72
Promises are easier kept around the table than before the fire. The one Yeshua had named the rock, now lay in pieces in an alley outside the courtyard. The accusing roosters scream tore into his inner ear with unrelenting mockery. There’s a kind of weeping that is so deep that it makes your whole body convulse until you vomit up burning grief from deep places you had no idea existed. Peter was discovering depths of sadness that tore his soul to shreds.
“I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me…” He had said. “One who dips his bread with me…”
Writhing on the ground Peter felt like a serpent impaled with a spear. All he could do was relive those horrible moments.
He had been standing by the fire warming himself, not sure if he should fight or run. He knew for sure he would be arrested for assaulting that servant, so he considered going into hiding. But he was unable to move. Suspended helplessly between his concern for Jesus, and his instinct to avoid further trouble, he warmed his hands while his synapses raced for a plan. Then she approached.
She didn’t bring any accusations, just a simple statement. Why does it seem our greatest temptations come wrapped in plain brown paper, almost unnoticeable until too late? She casually mentioned, “You were with that Nazarene.”
Fearful that she would point him out as the one who assaulted the servant, he tried to protect his cover,
“No, sorry, you’ve got the wrong guy lady.”
The Rooster crowed.
Peter reasoned to himself, “I wasn’t denying him, just my association, in case they’re looking for me.”
Not only does temptation come in plain brown paper, it finds an opening and keeps coming.
Enter the servant girl again, only this time she told all the bystanders.
“Hey this is one of the disciples of that Nazarene.”
Fearing this time they would surely report him, he denied it.
“I’m not denying him, just my association with him. I can tell them later after all this blows over.” He assured himself.
Then another chimed in, “Hey I can tell by your accent, you’re a Galilean. I know you’re one of them!” Temptation also plays hard on your fears, and Peter was fearful of more trouble.
“_______it! I don’t know this Nazarene you’re talking about.” He shouted.
Almost immediately the rooster cut through the night with a menacing indictment. At this all his rationalizing and reasoning fell into a million scathing pieces. Peter ran into the night, oblivious to the laughing crowd behind him.
The sound of his master’s warning couldn’t be drowned out by his convulsing heart.
“Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” Yeshua had said.
Promises are easier kept around the table than before the fire.
Satan delivered a package in brown paper and Peter received it first class. What do you do when the promise you gave the Lord at the table, fails the test of fire?
Through the torrents of emotion Peter could only think of his dear friend, betrayed by those he had given so much to. Flashes of memory cascaded into his consciousness compounding his grief.
Every word Yeshua had spoken, every deed he had done hovered over Peter with a crushing heaviness. Glimpses of walking on water, passing out bread, and opening blind eyes hammered him with unstoppable force.
Peter spent hours sitting in the corner of his home, arms folded around legs, rocking back and forth. “He gave me a life, and I gave him death. Oh God have mercy. His blood is on my head.”
But somewhere in the night something clicked. “Yeshua knew this would happen. He warned me. He wasn’t surprised. He knew I would falter. But he didn’t send me away.”
That thought seemed to give him some hope, although he didn’t know why.
He knows that much of what we say at the table doesn’t make it past the door of the upper room, much less to the fire of trial. Yet he still calls us to be with him. That’s the gospel.