“And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75 ESV).
It’s funny how failing to live up to the expectations of an acquaintance is a little disappointing, but failing to live up to the expectations of someone you love, and whose opinion you value, is like a sucker-punch to the solar plexus. Today I received one such sucker punch on the worst possible day. As I contemplated the ache in the pit of my stomach I thought about Peter.
Peter had good intentions. He and Jesus were tight. And it was incomprehensible in his mind that he could ever fall so short. Mere hours before he had sworn that he was ready to die for Jesus (Matthew 26:35). But the weight of the night’s events pressed out fears and actions that he was unaware resided inside him. And I think that Matthew was unable to find the words to accurately describe how Peter felt as he “went out and wept bitterly.”
John 21:15-17 records a conversation between Peter and Jesus. Jesus asks Peter if he loved Him (from greek agape, the kind of love God has for man). Peter responded that he loved Jesus (from greek phileo, the “friend” kind of love). A second time, Jesus asked Peter the same question and received the same reply. The third time Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, He used the word from Peter’s replies. “Peter, do you even like me?” Peter was hurt, not recognizing the grace that had just been extended to him. Jesus had given him the chance to take back each of his denials. Jesus had great expectations of Peter; and while he had fallen short, he would live up to those great expectations.
To be sure, today’s experience is not even remotely on the same level as Peter’s, but I feel like I have gotten a little more insight to Peter’s story than I had before. No doubt I will again fall short and disappoint those I love. But perhaps this experience, and that of Peter, will help me to be a little more mindful in the future.