|Carl Heinrich Bloch's "Peter Denies Jesus"|
Top that off that we follow a man who was always ready to blurt out the best guess anyone might have when Jesus asked a question. He was always ready to be the foil, the comic relief to the Master's deeper teachings. He was the stalwart, the faithful, the always there for the Lord. He was there from the beginning, and by his own admission was committed to being with the Lord to the end, be that end bitter or sweet.
Peter, whose love of Jesus, his brother and the other disciples seems to know no limit. He was just the man who deserved the nickname Cephas, the rock. Who remembers his birthname of Simon? No, he is Peter-Petros-Cephas. He is the steadfast one. He was the first one out of the boat when Jesus invited them to walk on water to him. He was the first one to confess Jesus as the Christ out loud, for all to hear.
He is the one whom Jesus tells will betray him not just once, but three times in one night before the cock crows the dawn of the next day.
In Luke, Peter vows to follow Jesus to prison and even to death when the Teacher begins to speak openly to his followers that their expectations of triumph will have to wait until he is taken, beaten and broken, killed and left for dead for three days.
Peter's own heart breaks that night, when he realizes that with each successive accusation leveled by the people gathered around the court of the High Priest's home he is proving the Master right once more.
Peter's heart breaks for the love of his Lord...and yet his profound humanity reveals that God's love and absolute forgiveness and mercy are real and present.
Judas' betrayal was a terrible and horrid "one off." Peter gets three chances, and fails the test each time.
But, he was the first one to reach the tomb when the women arrived with an incredible report that Jesus had risen.
He was the one to rise up in the midst of the followers after the Ascension and proclaim that Jesus died for ALL of Israel, even those who betrayed him (he knew what that felt like.) He was the first to realize that Paul was right and ALL really meant ALL...even Gentiles.
But this Sunday...we weep with him as he realizes just what humanity feels like when we fall short, and an inevitable betrayal breaks our hearts.