I am always drawn to Peter. One moment, so self-confident. Jesus, I’ll never deny you. I’m ready to die for you. Then, the arrest and now Peter experiences a crisis of faith. He has to decide. Do I follow through with my commitment or do I run away like the rest?
Peter, to his credit, tries. Jesus is taken away and Peter follows him at a distance and he gets all the way to the courtyard of the high priest where Jesus is being questioned. He’s on the outskirts, but at least he’s there. He is warming himself by a fire and trying to blend in with the crowd as he strains to eavesdrop on the proceedings. And a servant girl sees Peter and says, hey, you are one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter denies it and he scurries away. And from the text, it seems like the very same servant girl says a second time, I recognize you, you are one of his disciples. Peter is being chased around the courtyard by a servant girl and he denies Jesus a second time. Then a third time.
And we read in Luke 22:61–
61 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.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Peter denies Jesus 3 times and right at that moment, the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. The gaze of Jesus. What did Peter see? Condemnation? You no good follower, I told you how much of a coward you are. Is that what Peter saw? We’ll never know, but from the 4 gospels, a certain portrait of a man emerges. And so we can make a reasonable guess regarding the gaze of Jesus. I bet it was a combination of sadness, some disappointment certainly, but most of all, what Peter saw was eyes of forgiveness. Forgiveness. Undeserving acceptance. Grace. Peter, hang in there. Then, the rooster crowed and Peter went outside and wept bitterly. This is one of Peter’s most glorious moments in all of Scripture. Weeping bitterly over his sin.
We all have sin, we all have guilt, we all have things we want to hide, regrets, things we’ve done that we wish we didn’t, things we’ve said that we wished we could take back, we want to turn back the hands of time and rewind and do things over.
But when you do something, sin is committed. Damage is inflicted. People are hurt and the moral landscape of the universe is affected. Unfortunately, there is no time machine. There is no rewind button. You can try to wash your hands clean but they are still red with blood. What’s done is done.
Maybe as you are listening, you might be having a hard time picturing the gaze of Jesus. Maybe you have trouble believing that Jesus really does want to forgive you. If that’s you, I want to leave you with one final word of encouragement.
A few hours prior to Peter’s denial, during the Last Supper, listen to what Jesus says to Peter in Luke 22:31.
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
I don’t know how you came into this Good Friday Service. You might have been very spiritually prepared, reading Scripture, praying every day this week and like Peter, you’ve been weeping over your sins already. Or you might have had a hard week. Problem sets kept you up late and you’re tired. You worked long hours at work. Your kids were acting up. You got into a fight with your spouse on the way here. You’re spiritually unprepared.
In either case, know this. Jesus is praying for you. Right now. He is praying. Jesus has been praying for you. Jesus was already praying for Peter in advance. And Peter didn’t think he needed prayer at the time. But Jesus knew how desperately Peter needed prayer.
Spiritual battle is real. The last thing Satan wants is for you to go to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. The last thing Satan wants is for you to go to that brother or that sister that you’ve been having a hard time with and reconcile.
Satan wants to divide and do everything in his power to get you as far away from the cross and forgiveness as he can. And to fight against Satan, Jesus chooses the weapon of prayer. What did Jesus do when Satan was trying to sift Peter? He prays. What does he do today when Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion ready to devour one of us? He prays. Jesus fights the spiritual battle with prayer. I am encouraged greatly by Heb 7:25, which says,
25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Jesus always, always, always lives to intercede for his children. Did you get that? If you are in Christ, not a moment goes by when Jesus is not praying for you. He LIVES to intercede for you. Prayer is what Jesus does incessantly, constantly, without interruption. The fact that you are here this evening is evidence that Jesus is praying for you. No matter what condition you were in when you walked through that door. Know that throughout this service, Jesus is praying for you and for me and for FBC and LBC and churches throughout the world. Without the prayers of Jesus, we’re so weak on our own, faith would evaporate. Without His ceaseless prayers, none of us would make it to the end.
Be encouraged by the prayers of Christ for you. Spend some time at the foot of the cross. Look into the eyes of Jesus and receive the forgiveness that he so desperately wants to extend to each person here.