This week it is a series of verses from Luke and John that spoke to me:
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
But he replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death."
Jesus answered, "I tell you Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you knew me."
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation."
When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."
"Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, "This man was with them." But he denied it. "Woman, I don't know him," he said. A little later someone else saw him and said, "You also are one of them." "Man, I am not!" Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, "Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean." Peter replied, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.
(Luke 22:54-62, italics mine)
"Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. . . . When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord, he said, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."
It simply amazes me that interwoven in the greatest story ever told is a personal story that illustrates the results of Jesus's crucifixion. As I reread the events of Holy Week, I was so struck by how much Jesus cared for His disciples in the midst of His own suffering.
Jesus knew that Peter would deny Him and tried to warn Him. He knew that despite Peter's good intentions, his faith would fail him in the midst of his fear, confusion, and disappointment in the trials ahead. Jesus then went on to pray for Peter and to urge Peter himself to pray for deliverance from temptation. The very night that Jesus knew that He would be arrested, beaten, and crucified, He was so concerned with Peter's reaction to these events that he used some of His last precious moments of freedom to pray for Peter. Even when Peter and the other disciples fell asleep, Jesus returned from his own private prayers about what He must endure to urge them to pray for strength.
As Jesus is in the midst of a trial for His life, He isn't concerned for Himself. When the rooster crows, announcing Peter's third denial, Jesus looks straight at Peter. These words knocked my socks off when I read them this week. I had never realized the poignancy of this event before. Just imagine the look in Jesus's eyes when he looks straight at Peter. Mirrored there we see disappointment, hurt, pity, but no surprise. Now imagine those eyes turned on you when you sin. Wow, there's not a better way to feel true repentance is there? I believe that's why Peter "wept bitterly."
I think Luke is my favorite gospel because of the personal touch that he places on the stories of Jesus's life, but the all-important ending to this story isn't found in Luke; it's found in John. After the tumult of emotions of the crucifixion and resurrection and all its implications for everyone, we see a microcosm of these implications here on the shore of Galilee. When John recognizes Jesus, Peter can't restrain himself. He doesn't even wait to row the boat back to shore but jumps into the water and swims to Jesus. This compelling desire to be close to Jesus assures us that those tears that Peter wept weren't just from disappointment or bitterness or sadness, but true repentance. Knowing Peter's heart, Jesus insistently asks if Peter loves him. We are told that Peter is hurt by the number of times it is asked. And what is that number? Three. The same number of times that Peter had denied him. Jesus gives Peter a chance to cancel out each of his sins by confirming his love for Jesus.
Indulge me a moment by letting me share with you a conversation that took place over lunch this week in our house and which warmed my heart. Emily Anne was recounting all the activities this week, from a preschool Easter party to egg hunts (3 of them!) to grandparents visiting.
"And Daddy and I both get Good Friday off!" she said.
"What's Good Friday?" Joel asked.
"It's the day that Jesus died," she answered.
"But why is it called good?" Joel persisted.
"Because Jesus died for our sins to be forgiven," said Emily Anne.
I think on that shore in Galilee Peter understood why Good Friday was good, too.
So, what verses touched your heart this week? Post those verses on your own blog, along with how you see that God wants you to apply them in your life. Then, provide your link below so that we can drink from one another's wells of scripture.