By Allen White
Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”
He denied it, saying, “I am not.”
One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow. John 18:25-27
It was a long night. Standing out in the cold, wandering what was next, Peter’s first lie was accompanied by a second and third. Then, the rooster crowed just as Jesus had said. Every time that Peter lied, the stakes were a little higher.
The first two inquirers perhaps didn’t recognize Peter as a usual bystander in the courtyard. Why was he there? He must be connected to Jesus. Peter dismissed these claims out of hand. But, the third question was a little harder to deny.
The third inquirer was a servant of the high priest. He would have vividly remembered Peter, because it was Peter’s sword that connected with his relative, Malchus’ ear (John 18:26). Peter had left a lasting impression.
Was there blood on his sword? Was there guilt on his face? Unfortunately, to avoid being caught in a lie requires yet another lie.
Then, the rooster crowed. Peter was faced with the person that Jesus knew he was. Jesus saw right through him. Peter felt exposed. He had been happy living with an unreal version of himself in his head.
He wanted to be the man who stood by his Lord in thick and thin. Peter wanted to be the one who lasted until the very end. He wanted to take heroic action to prove his allegiance to Christ. If it were only that easy….
I love stories about heroes--people who risk life and limb for the sake of others. Soldiers who valiantly fight to defend our freedom. Rescue workers who disregard their personal safety to save another. Who wouldn’t want to be a headline-making, speech-giving, book-writing hero for Jesus?
Jesus isn’t looking for heroes as much as he’s looking for people willing to do the right thing. True heroes were just doing their job. True heroes think of others rather than themselves. People who toot their own horns are really kind of disgusting to us. People who are faithful—the ones we can count on—they’re the heroes we need.
Peter, like many of us, had over-promised and under-delivered. He wanted to be just that good. He just wasn’t. But, the rooster’s crow was not the end of Peter’s story.
Jesus didn’t write him off. Jesus didn’t discount his allegiance. Jesus knew Peter. Peter did exactly what Jesus had expected. Peter was Peter, but God wasn’t finished with him yet.
What do you tend to over-promise? Are you aiming too high? Are you only depending on yourself? Sometimes we dream of taking the hill when all we really need is to take the first step. What is that step for you today?
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