The whole of understanding, Weeping
Scripture: Luke, Matthew, John 21
In our lives, we all have had moments when we did something wrong. Regardless of what it was, when our loved one came to know of it, or it was found out, we knew we had to face the consequence. But in facing the consequence, did you ever ask yourself, “how did I Get here”?. And when we give the honest answer to that question, how did we re-act. Or more importantly, what real truth did we see about ourself.
This is what Peter experienced during the Passion of Christ.
We are told that when Jesus looked at Peter from the cross, that Peter wept bitterly. In our society, we are taught and know from experience that a difference exists between crying and weeping. When someone weeps, they are experiencing a great flood of emotion. We may not know the circumstance, but typically, we have learned by observation or experience, the tears are from a point of great sorrow, disappointment or great loss.
For Peter, I do agree to some point that Peter was grieved. Not only because he denied Jesus three times, but because his friend was hanging on a cross, suffering. From here I want to focus on Peter, and dig more into why he wept bitterly, for many this will be a different way of thinking from what has been taught in traditional church. Be warned, I do not agree or subscribe to the thought that Peter wept bitterly just because he denied knowing Jesus the Christ.
IN order to fully understand that statement, Wept Bitterly, we must go beyond the circumstance and look closer at the situation and time leading up to that moment. As we do this, hopefully, you will start to see the scripture in John 21 differently.
The reason I do not believe Peter was weeping solely because he denied Jesus those three times is simple; Too often we want a cause and effect relationship to elicit a reaction and typically we put the blame on the obvious, for Peter, denying Jesus. Why do we do this? Well, it is the last act that Peter does before and during the death of Jesus. For christians, it's obvious, it's what the scripture states. But for Peter it was more.
Peter was part of the inner circle, He had declared Jesus the Christ and was called “Petros, the Rock”. Jesus states that this is what he will build his church on. If we just look at the weeping as a result of his failure in denying Jesus, then the story is done.
But, in Matthew, prior to being told by Jesus he would deny Him (Jesus), Peter states, “...I will never be made to stumble.” How true of a statement.
In that simple course of events and statements, we see the bond between Jesus and Peter, therefore it should be no surprise, even to Jesus, that Peter proclaims his strength and willingness to die with Jesus.
In a world where we are short sighted in our understanding, the strength of the relationship between Peter and Jesus is overlooked in certain circumstances. They both, were in it for the long run. Jesus for the reconciliation of man to God, and Peter to build the path through Jesus.
Peter’s Statement was so timely. He was looking at not giving in. And that is exactly what Jesus wanted. He did not want Peter to give in. Jesus had a plan for Peter, he told the disciples that on “that Rock” he would build His church. Peter, thinking for the moment, would have probably died defending Jesus. Remember, He raised a sword and cut the ear of soldier’s who came to arrest Jesus. In the eyes of Jesus, Peter had grown, he realized the seriousness of Peter’s statement. For the statement came from a man fully devoted to Jesus the Christ, a man that had strength, courage and conviction. Peter could not die that night, it was not part of the plan, it was not to happen, and Peter’s devotion could lead to it.
Too often, we have been taught to view Peter’s statement about dying for Jesus as weak arrogance, and Jesus telling Peter he would deny Him (Jesus) as a means of Jesus humbling Peter. But is that really correct?, do you really believe that the last act Jesus the Christ would be to put one of his closest disciples, “in his place”? I do not and I see that when Jesus looks at Peter from the cross that Peter did not see or feel this either. That the look that came from Jesus was not one of disappointment or accusation, but one of clarity, one that Peter had seen before, the one that Jesus had when he asked the disciples, “Whom do you say that I am?” and when Jesus responded to the answer Peter gave, I see that Peter wept bitterly, not because of the denial, but because of the truth God showed Peter in that moment.
In that moment, we see Peter Humbled. Not by his actions or words, but by his realization. In his realization of the truthfulness of his own statements’.
In that moment he saw the truth of How he would not stumble, and how he would die with Jesus. He saw how his denial was not a weakness, but affirmation to all that Jesus had told him he (Peter) would accomplish for the Kingdom. In that moment, Peter wept bitterly, but not from guilt, but from the truth of revelation, the truth that had been imparted to him at another critical moment in the relationship, The moment he saw Jesus as the Christ, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
At this moment, Peter realized the call to his life had become the call on his life.
In our lives today, we have many opportunities to serve God thru Jesus the Christ. But too often we are held back by the expectation of the big moments of Revelation from the Bible. We focus on the Peter moments, Paul on the road to Damascus, even on The Holy Spirit appearing to Mary. And we try to measure our call to serve Jesus based on these events, we sell ourselves short. When we do not get the “blazing ball of fire” moment we tend to walk away or measure our desire or direction to serve by what others in our church or community are doing or we just leave. What we fail to realize is that none of the disciples started with a bang. Each was called, made a decision to follow first, learn second, become who they would be in Jesus, and finally accept and understand the reality of their call.
In each of our lives, we must first commit to what we believe, not because someone else believes, but because we believe it ourselves.
Grace is for us all. Peter may have been the first to feel the Grace of God thru Jesus in that moment at the cross. Jesus died for us all, but we must first learn if we really want to believe this individually we must not fall victim to a narrow minded exclusive doctrine. Once we become committed to our belief, then we can fully serve our call.
The reality in a relationship with Jesus, is not instant. As with other relationships in our lives, they grow and develop, heading in directions we may not have planned. And that was Peter. Weeping bitterly, not only because his friend was suffering, but because in the same moment, the purpose and direction of the relationship was brought to full understanding. Peter finally understood what the purpose of the relationship was and what was required of him moving forward.
In your life today, you may be drifting from belief to belief and ending up empty, not because of the lack of fulfillment, but from the lack of patience to allow the relationship in the belief to grow. Take a look at Jesus and be like Peter. Follow Jesus, patiently grow and develop the relationship, and when the time is right in God’s plan, the purpose of the relationship will be revealed.
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Matthew 26:33-35 New King James Version (NKJV)
33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are [a]made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”
34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
And so said all the disciples.