Today, we have Mark's version of Peter's three denials of any knowledge of Jesus. The differences and similarities among and between the Gospel writers is an interesting study to undertake. One of those differences in Mark, from Luke's version, is the lack of a dramatic turn of the head and look by Jesus when Peter makes his final denial. In Mark, we do not know if Peter could see what was happening to Jesus, or whether he was outside the walls, with view obscured.
What we have today, in Mark's version, is Peter's own conscience, his own self, reawakening with a knowledge that is devastating. Jesus knew Peter would be afraid and from that fear, trigger a self-preservation pose of denial. That is part of Peter's self-directed bitterness. Part of it also had to be from the loss of the one in whom so much hope and trust and love and excitement had been projected. Peter "broke down and wept" when his memory was triggered by the second crowing of the rooster. He came back to himself.
Those times in our lives can be formative. We know that Peter grew to be a leader, founder and central figure in the post-resurrection church. This forecast betrayal is an important piece of Peter's growth as that leader. We are reminded today that we can and will make mistakes (some of them gy-normous). They do not have to control or ruin our lives, although we can allow that to happen. We can let them inform us, form us, allow them to help us to grow into something we never even considered. Can we be open, today, to the thought of examining our lives and those times when we did something about which we have remorse, and grow from that experience? Grow into a new life which was unimaginable a day ago?
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo courtesy of M.H. Jarvis, 2010: SW, DC