But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.
Peter’s denials of Jesus weren’t just statements about not knowing who Jesus was, but they were denials of any association with Him whatsoever. They were denials of those three years of following Him faithfully, of participating in the ministry and spreading the Gospel and experiencing in so many profound ways the holiness, truth, love and mercy found in Jesus Christ. Those denials were, in a way, a severing of that connection and that bond he had surely built over those years of shared experiences, and they were made all the more bitter by the fact that he knew in his heart how untrue they were, because he had come to know Jesus in a way that few at that time had known Him.
This was a pivotal moment in Peter’s life even after all those amazing things he’d experienced, but that one moment didn’t have to define him or his relationship with Christ. He could move on from it stronger. He could have let his guilt drive him away from Jesus forever. He could have turned aside from the mission and the ministry and just went back home to his fishing boat. But perhaps what he found most of all on this night, besides the regret and that bitter ache in his heart, was a much more steadfast love and a starker realization of exactly what Jesus did mean to him. Perhaps this painful experience showed him how much he did want to serve and obey and live totally for Him, because he certainly dedicated the rest of his life to his Lord with passion and determination.
We can’t let moments of weakness keep us from moving forward. We can’t let moments of regret discourage us from continuing to grow and serve and live for Christ, because there are often valuable lessons to be learned from those kinds of experiences. And perhaps we’ve even experienced in our own lives those kinds of moments where we failed the Lord or let Him down but that helped us to see how much He meant to us, how much we wanted to please Him and do better the next time. Perhaps those things can reveal to our own hearts just how much we love the Lord and produce in us a greater diligence in obeying and serving Him.
Our stand for Christ and our relationship with Him can’t be all about us. It can’t be something that we only pursue when it’s safe or easy or comfortable. We’ll all face challenges and trials. We’ll all be faced with people who won’t accept us because of our faith in Christ. But these kinds of faith-testing moments can help solidify our dedication to Jesus and grow our relationship with Him. When we do fail, His grace is there to restore us and reassure us, and we don’t have to let those mistakes overcome us. Instead we learn from them, find strength from the Lord, and keep on following Jesus.