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Shame, Guilt, Regret

Why did Peter deny His Friend?

Psalm 1 says, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers.”

When Jesus was arrested in the garden Peter did not flee the scene as had the others. He tried to defend Jesus by lashing out at Malchus, the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear. As Jesus was led away to see Caiaphas, the high priest, Peter followed. (John chapter 18) Was it love and devotion?

My friend, James Robison told me once, “Often when our emotions get involved discernment leaves”. Perhaps this is what happened to Peter. He was walking in the crowd of the wicked. This crowd was easily swayed by mob mentality and emotion. We sometimes have a good intention; our motive is right, but we do it the wrong way and get ourselves in trouble.

At this point Peter could have left the crowd. He could have changed direction. How often our whole life changes on a simple choice. It becomes what I call a “hinge decision”.

But Peter not only walked with them – he stood with them and warmed himself by their fire. He was perhaps more concerned for his own comfort than what was happening to his dear friend. Luke (chapter 22) tells us that Peter sat with them to warm himself. It was there that the servant girl saw him in the fire light and recognized him. She told those around the fire that Peter had been with Jesus.

Peter denied he even knew Jesus. He denied he was “one of them” (disciples). An hour went by – time enough to change his course. A man said that Peter was a Galilean – he must have been with Jesus. Peter vehemently denied it. Before he even finished the denial, the cock crowed. At that point Jesus looked at Peter and Peter remembered that Jesus had predicted Peter would deny him.

At that point Peter left those by the fire. It was too late – the denials had taken place. Peter went out and wept bitterly. I cannot begin to imagine the sorrow and the regret. The “if only…”

I am not sure this compares well, but I have in mind the deep grief expressed and exhibited by the “Blade Runner”, Oscar Pistorius, this week in a South African court. Gut wrenching sobs. Sorrow. Regret. Shame. His life is forever changed.

Peter knew what he had done. Peter, at that point didn’t realize he would ever see Jesus alive again. Seemingly sentenced to a life of total grief and shame and regret.

God had another plan for Peter’s life!

But before we go there…

Let’s take note of where Peter positioned himself. He walked, stood and sat where he had no business being. Where are you walking today? Close to the edge? Flirting with sin? Where are you standing? Are your friends a good, godly influence? Or do they pull you down to their level so much so that you are comfortable with them. Is your spirit trying to get your attention to warn you. Listen. Take heed.

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