But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
Perhaps Peter’s most scathing denial was his last of all. “I know not the man,” Peter says. After Jesus had called him by the shore to be a fisher of men. After Jesus had walked with him and taught him things and answered his questions. After all that time spent going from place to place to touch lives and broken people. After walking on water and passing out the never-ending bread. After witnessing up close and personal love personified in the Word become flesh. After all that, when that moment of truth arrives, the only thing on Peter’s lips is a denial.
He could never take those words back. As long as he lived, in the back of his mind dwelt the echo of those bitter words. And so his cursing turned to weeping. His brashness turned to sorrow. He had just done what he said he’d never do, and it crushed him. The guilt flooded in and drained away all his pride and boasting and who he thought he was.
But sometimes those broken places are good places to be, even if they don’t seem like it at the time. The moments of our biggest regrets often become the source of the most profound lessons we learn in life. They often become turning points that can change the course of our lives and send us off in a different direction. Those moments that we’ll still cringe over years later can shape us into stronger and sturdier followers of Christ. Because probably in this moment, Peter realized just how much he needed Jesus, how weak he was on his own, how prone to pride and failure when left to himself. Perhaps he understood how lightly he’d taken things like prayer and taking to heart the things that Jesus had been telling him all along.
What is our “denial”? What is that one thing, that biggest regret that will replay in our mind from time to time? How have we dealt with it? What if we surrender it to God and seek His grace for it? What if we allow that painful moment in our past to lead us to a better future? Our weakness just shows us how much we need the strength of God. Our sins show us just how much we need a Savior. Our mistakes show us that we’re just human, but we can be redeemed. This wasn’t the end of Peter’s story. No one would ever doubt the commitment to Christ of the man that he became after this. And our own personal failures can be redeemed to strengthen our relationship with Him and our service to Him.