Peter said, "Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about." At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." He went out and cried and cried and cried. Luke 22:60-62 (TM)
I was only about ten years old. It was a Sunday morning and I was at church with my family. As usual, Reverend Washington was preaching. This was the part of the church service, as a child, that you completely zoned out. Doodle on the bulletin. Play with your Wrigley’s Doublemint gum wrapper and see if you can safely peel the white paper on the inner wrapper away from the silver backing. Daydream. Do anything you have to in order to get through the next 20 to 25 minutes.
On this particular Sunday morning, Reverend Washington was preaching about this passage in Luke. Instead of zoning out, I found myself strangely tuned in. I remember his retelling of the story of Peter making his third denial, then Jesus turning at that dramatic moment to look at Peter, and Peter immediately remembering the Master’s ominous words from earlier in the evening. I was riveted. My little ten year old heart was moved. It was the first time I remember actually listening to a sermon. It was the first time that I realized that I had a choice to make, as well. I must make Peter’s choice. Would I deny Jesus, too? Will I see that look of disappointment in Jesus eyes?
Yes, I would. Yes, I have. As an adult, and as a believer, I’ve denied Jesus countless times and in different ways through my apathy and my willful disobedience. I have felt Jesus’ eyes piercing my heart and have experienced that painful moment of realization and conviction…again, and again, and again.
When you are a follower of Jesus, conviction leads to confession. Confession leads to repentance. Repentance leads to redemption. Redemption leads to restoration. Peter would not be left broken and abandoned in the Chief Priest’s courtyard. His denial would begin a journey of restoration through which Peter would mature into the undisputed shepherd of the early church.
I’m on the same journey, in my own small way. It began on a Sunday morning when I was ten years old. That was the morning I realized that I had a choice to make, too.