“The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies.” Author Unknown
The weight of that sentence is powerful. Betrayal is such dark and devastating word, yet it is most often connected to the people we love and trust. It produces feelings of foolishness for having trusted an untrustworthy person. It raises questions about our judgment and often hardens our hearts.
Our Bible is full of stories of betrayal. More times than not, the betrayer grapples with overwhelming feelings of guilt and heartache, knowing that a relationship they held so dear will never be the same. No one understood this more than Peter.
In Mark 14:30, Jesus declares that Peter will deny Him three times before the rooster crows. Peter wasn’t buying it. He had been following Jesus for three years and had seen and heard it all. He was practically bragging to Jesus that he would never deny Him. In fact, he would die right there with Him if it came down to it.
Hours later as Jesus was being beaten, Peter was nowhere to be found.
The words “I would die with you” are practically still hanging in the air and Peter has vanished. After denying he knew Jesus when two different girls inquired, a third person overheard his Galilean accent, making the conclusion that he was “one of them.” Peter lost all control at this point, cursed loudly and screamed to the top of his lungs that he had no idea who that Man was.
Immediately the rooster crowed. Scripture tells us that Peter went outside and wept bitterly when he recognized his sin.
I believe there were two main reasons why Peter denied Jesus: weakness and fear. As they were waiting for His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus warned Peter that his flesh was weak. Instead of using those precious hours to pray for strength Peter fell asleep. He underestimated the weakness of his flesh.
Peter was also afraid. From a courtyard, he watched Jesus being falsely accused, insulted and beaten. As a loyal confidant of Christ, he probably assumed he would die too. He saw firsthand how Jesus was mistreated and he suddenly wasn’t as bold and courageous as he had claimed to be just hours before. It was fight or flight time. And Peter fled.
Our faith can appear extremely strong — until it is tested.
One of my favorite verses in Mark is where Mary Magdalene discovered an angel in Jesus’ tomb. He said, “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples, and Peter.” (Mark 16: 16-7)
Tell His disciples…and Peter.
What a beautiful picture of grace and redemption. Even though Peter failed this test, our merciful God forgave him and resurrected his faith. The Lord knew that Peter would be struggling with unimaginable guilt and He wanted to provide restoration immediately.
And that He did. When Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, his first sermon saved 3,000 people. From that point on, he became a pillar of the early church.
Our faith will be tested. We will be weak and we will be afraid. And we will fail. But God can use those times when our faith lacks strength to open our eyes to a different perspective. One that helps us claim the truth, embrace the moment and share the Good News. ~ Lincee Ray
Sacred Story is honored to have Lincee Ray as a guest contributor this month. Lincee writes for Entertainment Weekly’s blog and her humorous reflections about the drama behind the Bachelorette can be read on her personal blog. To hear more from Lincee about betrayal in her own life, read her sacred story called “Just the Beginning.”