Chances are you can recall a time in your own life when you “wept bitterly” over something. Like Peter, what you thought could never happen to you did indeed, leaving you
ashamed . . .
confused . . .
uncomfortable . . .
frightened . . .
Maybe it was a divorce that threw off your normal equilibrium or a marriage that underwent severe stress. Perhaps it was a business failure that made your life so wretched or an important relationship in which miscommunication and hurt feelings took over. Could it have been the belief that you failed someone important, even yourself? You fell so far short of your personal expectations. Whatever it was, you couldn’t believe this was happening, not to you anyway.
Certainly Peter’s earlier words, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33), came back to mock him. Each of us starts out in life with desires, ambitions and dreams, plus the early commitment and resolve to achieve them. But somewhere along the way, whether by our own deliberate choice or by external circumstances, these aspirations come crashing down before us, crumbling in our hands.
There we sit in the ruins, replaying the various destructive scenes and moaning at the appropriate times, “If only that didn’t happen!” Regret clings to our every thought as we struggle to stand with knees made weak by our own choices.
That’s where Peter was stuck in his thoughts. Earlier he had so triumphantly announced that Jesus was the Son of the living God. Yes, he was one of those in the “inner circle” closest to his Lord. He even miraculously walked on water. And it was to him that Christ talked about that rock upon which His Church would be built.
But he had just denied the very One he earlier declared to be the Messiah, the man he had said he would follow to the very end and even die for. So much for all his big talk. Jesus had heard with His own ears Peter’s strong statements of denial. How could this happen . . . to Peter?