What a day you had, Peter. You were happy to obey Jesus and prepare the Feast of the Passover with John. You felt pretty good about your leadership role at that point, didn't you? You were given extra responsibility, along with John, the disciple Jesus loved. I'm sure you reveled in it.
You thought you knew your Master and loved Him well. Yet when Jesus rose from the table and knelt down before you to wash your feet, you said, "You shall never wash my feet!" You didn't understand that Jesus was demonstrating servanthood to you. When Jesus informed you that you'd have no share with Him if you refused to let Him serve you, you wanted more. "Wash my hands and my head, too," you said. You wanted to let Him and the others know that you were a wholehearted, devoted disciple. You were in it with all of your heart. Or so you thought.
When Jesus informed you all that one of you would betray Him, you protested loudly, knowing within you that it couldn't possibly be you. You loved Jesus. No way would you betray Him!
When the discussion turned to who was the greatest among you (and the answer was obvious: Jesus!) I imagine you felt pretty sure, deep inside, that it was you. Did you puff up a little when Jesus said...
“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Luke 22:28-30 ESV)
Did you think to yourself, "Yep, I've stuck by the Master through thick and thin. Some day I'll be sitting on a throne, judging the twelve tribes. Sweet!"
You simply could not comprehend Jesus' words to you when He warned you that Satan wanted to sift you like wheat. "Who, me? I'm a tough guy. A fisherman. I put my life on the line when I go out to sea to catch fish. I'm not afraid of anything. I'll be fine."
You thought it nice that Jesus said He prayed for you that your faith would not fail, but deep inside you wondered why the Lord was even concerned. You were ready for anything!
"Lord, I'm ready!"
"I'll never deny You!"
"I've got a sword here!"
When you all went out to the Mount of Olives, Jesus took you and James and John into the garden with Him, while the others waited at the gate. He told you to pray that you would not enter into temptation. If you had realized what the rest of the night would bring, you would have prayed, fervently, wholeheartedly, passionately, brokenly. Instead, you slept.
You likely felt a twinge of guilt when Jesus woke you with the words, "Why are you sleeping?" Did you make an excuse? He told you to rise, and again warned you to pray that you would not enter into temptation. Did you obey?
Then you saw the crowd of soldiers coming. Maybe, for a fleeting moment, you were relieved to see Judas with them. But then you heard the Master say, "would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?" When you heard the word, "Betray", your hand went immediately to the dagger you were carrying, and you cried out, "Lord, shall we strike?" You were ready for a fight!
You didn't wait for the Lord's reply. You lashed out, cutting off the ear of the servant of the high priest, named Malchus.
Jesus said, "NO MORE OF THIS!" He healed Malchus' ear with a touch. He pointed out to the crowd that they could have arrested Him at any time as He was always in the temple or public places, then allowed the soldiers to lead Him away.
You followed. At a distance. Not so brave now, were you?
In the courtyard, you warmed yourself by the fire, listening to the chatter as the people discussed the commotion. Who was this guy they'd arrested? What had been going on? Who'd been with Him?
You noticed a servant girl looking intently at you, but you ignored her. Did you squirm as she gazed at your face? When she said, "This man was with him.", you denied it.
"Woman, I do not know Him." Oh, Peter.
The talked turned from Jesus to His disciples. Who were these guys that followed this preacher around? One of the men pointed at Peter and said, "You also are one of them."
"Man, I am not." Oh, Peter.
Another hour went by. The people around the fire got to discussing where Jesus was from. Wasn't He from Galilee? Someone piped up, "Certainly this man also was with Him, for he, too, is a Galilean."
"Man, I do not know what you are talking about!"
The rooster crowed.
And the Lord turned, and looked at Peter.
And Peter, you remembered what He said.
Did your heart break?
You went out and wept bitterly.
What a day you had.
But Peter, your life is a lesson for me. I am like you in many ways. And I have a few Peters in my life as well.
What you have taught me is that God chooses foolish, brash, tough people. And He makes them into a Royal Priesthood, conformed to the image of Christ, fit for the Kingdom of Heaven.
One day, when I get there, I'll seek you out, Peter. I can't wait.