AND PETER FORGOT
“Simon, Simon! Look, Satan has got his wish to sift you all like wheat; but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and once you have recovered, you in your turn must strengthen your brothers.”
“Lord, (Peter said), I would be ready to go to prison with you, and to death. Jesus replied, ‘I tell you, Peter by the time the cock crows today, you will have denied three times that you know me.’” (LK 22: 34)
We know the rest of the story. After the Passover meal they went out to the Mount of Olives to sing the traditional psalms and songs. It was at this point that the mood became very heavy for Jesus knew in his heart that the time was approaching that he would be handed over to the of the authorities to be put on trial, a mock one at that, and given over to the Romans to be flogged and crucified.
Those who had sworn their allegiance all took off when the guards form the Temple arrived. Some ran so fast that the very cloths that cover them were left behind, as with John Mark who had on a sheet. Maybe the boasting the disciples made was due to too much wine at the Passover meal?? But whatever the reason, it was short lived.
Fear, my brothers and sisters, has a very powerful affect upon us. It can make us stronger that we ever thought we could be or make us turn tail and run for our lives. Fear make us forget the past or the future, for only the present is important; the immediate presence of danger that we come face to face with.
Peter, as well as the others, found himself in that situation and he FORGOT!
As we read in the Gospel of John, Peter and John follow the crowd back toward the Temple Mount. Peter hides himself in the shadows of his cloak and tries to warm himself at the charcoal fire in the courtyard. It was there that a someone pointed him out…and Peter was faced with his paralyzing fear.
The girl at the door noticed Peter and said, “Aren’t you another of that man’s disciples?” Peter said NO! Fear of being discovered took over. Peter FORGOT the first time he encountered Jesus. It was up on the lake of Galilee. Jesus was on the shore and said to Peter and his companions, “Children, have you caught anything?” No, they said. Jesus then said, “Through you nets to the other side of the boat,” and so they did. To their astonishment, their nets were filled to the breaking point. They had to call to their friends in another boat to come and help them with the catch. It was then that Peter through himself at the feet of Jesus and said, “. . . depart from me, Lord, I am a sinful man.” But Jesus said instead, follow me and I will make you a fisher of men.
Peter forgot the time at the wedding feast of Cana, and how, at the request of his mother, Jesus turned water into the best wine they had ever tasted. And let us not forget the time when in that deserted place, Jesus was able to feat 5,000 men, not to mention the women and the children.
Not much later, as Peter stood by the fire warming himself, another said, “Are you not one of that man’s followers?” Peter’s answer was again a resounding NO. Peter FORGOT.
Yes, Peter forget the time in that little town on Nain. Jesus and the disciples had just entered the town as the only son of a widow was being carried out and the town followed in procession. Jesus approached the litter and place his hand upon it and stopped them. Then to the young man, Jesus said ‘arise’. Jesus then gave the young man back to his mother. And then there was the time, that Jesus took pity on the ten lepers and heal them, and that only one, a Samaritan, came back to give thanks. And should we forget the time Peter and the others were there when the daughter of Jairus, Temple official, was very ill. Jairus asked Jesus to come and make her better. As Jairus pleaded members of his household came and said that the little girl died. Jesus took Peter, James and John with him into the house and said to the child ‘Talitha Kum!’ Which means, “little girl, get up.” And then he said, “give her something to eat.”
Peter also forgot that even before they went of the Jairus’ house, an old woman who suffered from hemorrhages most of her life was in the crowd and came up behind Jesus and said in her heart, “if only I touch the tassel of his garment, I will get better. . .” and so she was.
The night was chilly and Peter wanted to get closer to the fire. Once again, another spoke up, one who just who happened to be a relative of Malcus, the man whose ear Peter had cut with a sword. “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again, Peter started to curse and he swore he did not know the man.
Peter FORGOT. Yes, fear again got the hold of him and made him forget when Jesus and the others got word that, their good friend, Lazarus had died. Peter did not remember when they went to the town of Bethany, Jesus had encountered Mary as they entered the town. Peter may not have been close enough to Mary to hear what they said….as Jesus assured Mary that her brother would rise again. . . “Yes, Lord, I know he will, in the resurrection of the Just.” Peter did may not have heard what Jesus said to her…. Mary, I AM THE RESURRECTION.”
Fear made Peter to forget what took place afterward when they went to the place where Lazarus had been buried four days earlier. How Jesus, filled with emotions cried for his friend and then ordered the stone moved away and call into the tomb, “Lazarus, come out”. And to the astonishment of all, the dead man came out at which Jesus ordered, “Untie him and let him go free.”
It was at this point, when Peter coursed and swore for the third time that he did not know this man Jesus, that he raised his head, just as they were taking Jesus into the inner court to be judged, and their eyes met. There was no condemnation in the Lords gaze, only understanding, forgiveness and love. And off in the distance, in the chilly gray of dawn a cock crowed. A cock crowed announcing the dawn of a new day. Yes, their eyes met, and Peter REMEMBERED! And he when out and wept bitterly.