11 Apr Day 24 – Peter Denies He Knew Jesus
One of the primary ways we find strength is by seeing Jesus and how much he loves us. For the next few weeks of our guided prayer we are going to take strength by meditating on what Jesus went thru for us. The scripture teaches us that the greatest demonstration of Love is to lay down your life for another. Throughout Jesus’s time on earth he was continually “laying his life down” for us. Each day we’ll take one example of Jesus doing this and ponder it.
The religious leaders seized Jesus and led him away, but Peter followed from a safe distance. They brought him to the home of the high priest, where people were already gathered out in the courtyard. Someone had built a fire, so Peter inched closer and sat down among them to stay warm. A girl noticed Peter sitting in the firelight. Staring at him, she pointed him out and said, “This man is one of Jesus’ disciples!” Peter flatly denied it, saying, “What are you talking about, girl? I don’t know him!” A little while later, someone else spotted Peter and said, “I recognize you. You’re one of his, I know it!” Peter again said, “I’m not one of his disciples.” About an hour later, someone else identified Peter and insisted he was a disciple of Jesus, saying, “Look at him! He’s from Galilee, just like Jesus. I know he’s one of them.” But Peter was adamant. “Listen, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Don’t you understand? I don’t even know him.” While the words were still in his mouth, the rooster crowed. At that moment, the Lord, who was being led through the courtyard by his captors, turned around and gazed at Peter. All at once Peter remembered the words Jesus had prophesied over him, “Before the rooster crows in the morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” Peter burst into tears, ran off from the crowd, and wept bitterly.
– Luke 22: 54-62
(Ponder and grow in your awareness of Jesus’ life of sacrifice by reflecting on the following questions.)
Peter’s denial has been the subject of major works of art for centuries. That look the Lord gave Peter was brilliantly captured in the Mel Gibson movie, The Passion of the Christ. Many of the old masters including Rembrandt and Caravaggio have painted this scene. But long before any of these great works of art, Luke’s description of how Jesus turned and looked at Peter captured hearts and consciences down the ages.
When Jesus turns and looks at us, he knows all our secrets. His gaze will always be loving, sometimes reproachful. The challenge is in our response.
But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, who wrote the following seventeenth-century prayer, knew how he wanted to respond. He asked to show the same repentance as Peter showed and to receive the same forgiveness that Jesus gave his flawed disciples. This was such full-hearted forgiveness that Peter became head of the early church. What an encouraging example of God’s practice of taking the worst of sinners, forgiving them, changing them, and using them in his service. Jesus’ penetrating look can be the start of this divine process if we respond to it with true repentance.
“O Lord Jesus Christ, look upon us with those eyes of thine wherewith thou didst look upon Peter in the hall; that with Peter we may repent and by thy same love be forgiven; for thine endless mercy’s sake. Amen.”
– Bishop Lancelot Andrewes (1555–1626)
Jonathan Aitken. “Prayers for People under Pressure.”
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