Scripture Reference: Mark 14:66-72
Today, I preached about Peter’s denials, and Jesus’s offer of mercy to all disciples like you and me who do the same. Peter has two confessions in Mark. The first one happened when Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ” (Mark 8:29). The second one occurred when the lead disciple—whose name means rock—denied Jesus by saying, “I do not know this man you are talking about” (Mark 14:71). Both statements were true confessions. Peter was with Jesus enough to learn he is the Christ, and he could not fathom the mercy and sacrifice Christ offered him. He thought he knew everything there was to know about Jesus of Nazareth and realized very quickly he was much more than one person could ever understand. Overwhelmed with cowardice and the threat of persecution, Peter acted like the rocky soil of Jesus’s parable in Mark 4:17. “When trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.” The lead disciple had a rocky heart.
When Peter was at his worst, Jesus was at his best. His cross broke through the rocky heart of Peter’s life, and Peter remembered what Jesus said. He remembered that Jesus told him he would deny him three times, and I think he also remembered something else Jesus said, “After I am raised up, I will go before you into Galilee.” Even while Jesus predicted Peter’s inevitable denial, he also promised to meet up with him in Galilee and restore him (Mark 14:28).
As disciples of Jesus, we too deny him like Peter, either by what we say or what we do. We think the information and participation in the things of Jesus will overcome our darkness. Sometimes we disassociate ourselves from Jesus and believers, or our behavior denies that we are a follower of Jesus. When we are at our worst, Christ’s mercy offers us his best. The only person who can save us and forgive us is Jesus. The path to forgiveness begins with Jesus’s work on the cross. He breaks through our stubbornness. Like Peter, we remember his words, and we express remorse for the ways we have denied Jesus. Jesus meets us again this Easter with the promise of forgiveness and new life.