Mark 14:26 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.27And Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters; for it is written,
“I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.”
28But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.’ 29Peter said to him, ‘Even though all become deserters, I will not.’ 30Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ 31But he said vehemently, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And all of them said the same.
66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. 67When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.’68But he denied it, saying, ‘I do not know or understand what you are talking about.’ And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed.69And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, ‘This man is one of them.’ 70But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.’ 71But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about.’ 72At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.
This is one of the saddest passages in Scripture. Like David weeping over his fallen son, (2 Kings 18:33) we can all identify with the pain and self-loathing and guilt these men faced. Peter, who loved Jesus so much, who had so much potential, had been frightened into doing something about which he had been warned.
We have all done something like this. We have lied, or betrayed, or dealt unfairly with someone who loved us. And like Peter, we will bear the scars of our sin throughout our lives. But like Peter, we can be forgiven. We can use our pain to fuel our determination to do good. We can learn from the misery we have created. We can understand those who betray us.
Some lessons are almost unbearably painful. Their healing usually comes with some dark nights of tears. But knowing that this giant of the early Christian church, the Rock, could sin this much and be forgiven is comfort. In the cold twilight before the rooster crows, we too can experience the forgiveness of the Christ.