“And he (Peter) went out and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:75b)
It had only been a few hours since Christ and His disciples had shared the Passover Feast. It had only been a short time since Peter had said, with conviction, that he would never deny Jesus. But as events rapidly unfolded, first at Gethsemane and then in the courtyard, he forgot all the things that had happened earlier in the evening.
It wasn’t until the rooster crowed, after Peter had vehemently sworn he wasn’t one of the disciples, that he remembered Christ’s words: “Before a rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”
This was Peter, whose faith allowed him to walk on water. This was Peter, who Christ commended for understanding He was the Messiah, the Son of God. This was Peter, the rock on whom Christ would build His church.
Despite all that, Peter denied Christ three times. The follower who had just declared he would die for his Savior was now afraid, or perhaps ashamed, to be associated with Him.
I can’t be too hard on Peter. I’ve done the same thing. There have been times in my life I’ve said, with heartfelt conviction, that I would die for Christ. There have been other times I’ve distanced myself from my Lord because I was afraid or ashamed to be associated with Him. I’ve acted like I didn’t know Christ at all. Perhaps you’ve done these things, too.
Peter’s response is beautiful. He wept bitterly. Regret and sorrow for denying His Savior overwhelmed him. What’s so beautiful about that?
2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
I believe Peter’s tears poured out from a repentant heart. Why? Because he didn’t continue down a path leading further and further from his Savior. He turned around and ran back to Christ, who was waiting with open arms. Peter did go on to be the rock on which Christ built the church. And he did, in the end, die for his Savior.
Help me remember, as I face day to day choices, that “You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.” (Psalm 16:2) When I choose poorly, when I sin against you, fill my heart with a godly sorrow that will lead me to repentance. Forgive me and draw me back to You.