“Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered.
And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest,
and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.” Matthew 26:57-58
The last phrase in these verses strikes my heart with the despair and hopelessness Peter must have felt in this moment: “he sat with the guards to see the end.”
Peter was the man among the twelve whose passion was evident in his every answer to the questions Jesus asked and statements He made. He never left a doubt as to where he stood, and vehemently determined that he would stand with his Lord. What a dark moment this must have been. He knew the intense hatred that Jesus faced. Seeing this man whom he loved and believed was the promised Messiah, the man he left everything to follow, led away without even attempting to fight it, must have caused such turmoil within him. Confusion, fear, a scrambling of his thoughts to try and figure out what to do.
Then, in the midst of this very deep pain, Peter is confronted by those surrounding him in the courtyard. As he’s no doubt struggling to grasp the fact that his world has just been turned upside-down. And he makes his infamous declarations, denying that he even knows Jesus. Denying any connection with the One whom he had said he would never forsake, even if it meant death.
It’s no wonder that Peter wept bitterly upon the realization of what he had done. Jesus had foretold Peter’s denial. At that time, Peter firmly refused to believe it. But now everything lay in shambles at his feet. He had failed utterly.
How often do we feel our utter failure? We may try so hard to be who we think we should be and live to honor our Lord, but suddenly see how unable we are to do so in our own strength. Sometimes it can be difficult to pick ourselves back up again…we may think it isn’t worth even trying. And we may wonder how we could ever hope for forgiveness…that perhaps Jesus has given up on us.
But Jesus never gives up. He is our Savior, and He is powerful enough to save us to the uttermost. It is His Spirit within us that brings us victory. We can’t pull ourselves out of the mire. We can’t rid ourselves of sin or break the chains surrounding us. Only He can do this. And when we turn to Him, He will be faithful to do so.
This was not the end. Peter’s hope was not lost. And neither is ours.