How are you in times of great distress? Do you make your best choices? Say the most brilliant things? I know I don't. I can look back at moments of great grief or trauma in my life and I can't believe some of the things I've said, or didn't say. Some people have the gift of knowing just what to say at key, pivotal moments. I am not one of those people.
Neither was Peter. I always chuckle when I read how Peter interrupts Jesus' conversation with Moses and Elijah during that glorious moment on the Mount of Transfiguration. And, of course, he was the one who rashly cut off the servant's ear in the Garden of Gethsemane. Today I read with such heaviness in my heart for him as he denied even knowing Jesus. Repeatedly. And with cuss words.
After his denial of Christ, though, Matthew 26:75 records that Peter "went out and wept bitterly." John MacArthur's notes in my Bible this morning said something that I just love:
"The true Peter is seen not in his denial but in his repentance."
What a statement! A few years ago our teaching pastor pointed out that David's life, though filled with sin of every kind, was not characterized by sin, but rather characterized by brokenness and repentance. (And praise!) Sin is such a daily battle, isn't it? Praise God that our lives need not be characterized by our poor choices, bad decisions or rash words. But, the key is repentance. In the moment that Jesus made eye contact with Peter, he was brought to a place of brokenness and repentance. That's how he went from the Matt. 26 Peter to the bold, Spirit-filled Acts 4 Peter. The same can be true for me. I must make eye-contact with my Savior. Repentance is the key.
Even as Peter was in the midst of sinning against his Lord, Jesus was on His way to bear the punishment for it. I shared a few months ago a technique that I believe God gave me for prayer, to help me be thorough in my confession. It is based on the word "scars," because He bore those scars for me, and still bears them even as He sits at the right hand of the Father. I need to be reminded of this daily.
I know as I go throughout my day today I will sin, but oh how I pray that the true "me" will be seen in my repentance.