Pierson held his hands over the fire raging in the metal drum. It was the middle of the day, but the sun still couldn’t warm his frozen body. He shivered despite the heat coming from the flames.
He took in his surroundings. Other vagrants gathered in the alley. Two fought over a slice of moldy bread while another passed his paper bag to his buddy for a swig.
Pierson shook his head.
How did I end up here?
Pierson clenched his jaw. The betrayer had cost them everything. Joshua’s freedom, their employment, and Pierson’s wife. She couldn’t take the loss of income and fled.
The authorities seized every asset. Joshua was sent to prison. His arraignment would be held in two hours.
A girl snuggled in beside him to feed off the heat. “Hey, I know you. You were with that Joshua man.”
Pierson snatched his hands away. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about.” He moved to another huddle.
Moments later, the girl joined him and the others. She pointed to Pierson. “This fellow is one of Joshua’s followers.”
“No, I’m not.” Pierson rushed down the alley and into the street, never glancing back.
He walked for miles until he reached the courthouse. Camera crews lined the steps ready to pounce when Joshua emerged after the verdict.
Pierson plunked his weary body on the last step and waited. He needed a glimpse of his friend.
A reporter yelled. “Hey, I know you.” He shoved a microphone in Pierson’s face. “You’re one of them because you worked for Joshua, right?”
Pierson stood. “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
A nearby clock chimed twice.
Joshua’s last words rang in his ears. “I bet you will deny me three times before I even get out of the courthouse.”
Pierson hung his head and cried.
This story leads us into the next person I wanted to focus on during this Easter season.
Can we relate to this disciple? Have we denied someone, something, or even our faith? Let’s look at the question I’m sure we all ask about this man.
Why did he do it?
Fear. Peter was scared. He’d just seen one of the disciples betray their Master. Jesus was taken by force at the hand of ruthless guards armed with swords. Wouldn’t you be scared? I would be! Peter probably thought he’d be next, so he fled. Then when others approached him about knowing Jesus, he was scared for his life so his human nature took over and did the unthinkable. He denied Christ—three times. I bet we’ve done something similar. We’ve been scared and reacted in a way that probably wasn’t pleasing to our Savior. Let’s keep reading.
The unknown. Peter didn’t know what was going to happen to Jesus. He didn’t see the big picture even though Jesus tried to give a hint to His followers. Peter even said, “I will never disown you.” So when the guards took Jesus, Peter panicked at what could happen next. The unknown can block our vision easily. It can also steer us down the wrong path. Trust in Jesus knowing that He’s sovereign and wouldn’t lead us astray.
Selfishness. Let’s address the elephant in the room. Peter was selfish. We’ve all probably thought that. He was only thinking of getting away and alluding arrest. However, let’s not judge him. We might do something similar. Let me rephrase that…we have done something similar. We all have a selfish nature. All. Of. Us.
Again, let’s keep reading.
Once Peter denied Christ three times, the rooster crowed. I remember on our tour of Israel, my sister and I stood in the spot where they say Peter was when the rooster crowed (photo to the right). It was surreal. We could picture Peter when he remembered Christ’s words. I’m sure Peter fell to his knees hard and sobbed uncontrollably. I mean heart-wrenching-feeling-like-your-going-to-be-sick sobs.
Anguish seeped through his pores like raindrops in a summer storm. Peter knew he failed miserably. And yes, he was sorry.
We know the story doesn’t end there. Jesus forgave Peter and used him mightily.
I love Peter because I can relate. He’s real. He’s one of us.
He messed up. However, Jesus still used him for a greater purpose.
How about we remember that the next time we botch things up? If we hear a “rooster” crow, let’s have faith and trust Christ.
He used The Denier. He can also use us.
No matter what.
Share a time when you denied something you shouldn’t have. Or when you messed up, but God used your mistake big time. Your story will encourage us all!
Mark 14:72 (NIV)
“Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.”
Peter Denies Christ – Passion of the Christ
This is tough to watch.