We are looking on in the room where Jesus sits at a table eating a meal with his disciples. He knows this will be his last meal and as time passes, Jesus describes the events that will soon take place and lead to his death. You can hear the gasp of the disciples as Jesus speaks. How could this be? Jesus is supposed to be the Messiah. He is the One that we have read about from the time of the prophets, who wrote that a Savior would come. This is the same Jesus who performed miracles and touched so many people. This is the same Jesus who entered Jerusalem only days earlier. Now he is talking about his death? This didn’t seem to be making sense. The disciples were taken aback once again, but this time because of Jesus telling them that it would be one of his followers who would turn him in to the authorities. Even more unbelievable was the fact that the disciple who would betray the very Son of God was sitting at the same table. Eyes darted around to each person in the room, each of them wondering which disciple it would be. They each turned to Jesus and asked, “Will it be me?” The meal continues with thoughts running through each person’s mind as to who this person is that will betray the Savior, when Jesus startles them again by saying that they would all forsake him that same night. Suddenly, we hear Peter speak up and say, “Even if everyone else deserts you, Lord, I will not.” Jesus looks at Peter and tells him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” Peter exclaimed, “Not me, I will follow you, even to death, if necessary.”
Later that same night, we see Jesus and his disciples as they go to the Garden of Gethsemane, a place Jesus frequently went to pray. He asked his disciples to wait for him, while he went off by himself to pray. Jesus told them that his heart was sorrowful, possibly beginning to feel the weight of our sins growing heavier. He went away by himself to pray while his disciples sat a distance away from him. When Jesus returned, he found his disciples sleeping. He was grieved that his own disciples could not watch and pray with him for just an hour. Jesus told them to pray once again and with that, he walked away further into the garden to pray. Jesus returned again to find his disciples asleep and went back to continue praying. He returned a third time to find them still sleeping and told them to wake up, it was time for the Son of Man to be turned over into the hands of the sinful men.
As Jesus was speaking to his disciples, his former disciple, Judas, who had turned Jesus into the authorities, was coming toward him with guards. Judas walked up to Jesus, gave him a kiss, and with that one kiss, the guards seized Jesus. The scene became frantic as Jesus’ disciples deserted him, just as he had predicted. The guards led Jesus away as Peter followed at a safe distance. Once at the courtyard where Jesus’ trial would begin, Peter warmed his hands by a fire. Someone came up to Peter and said, “You are a follower of Jesus.” Peter replied, “I don’t know him.” After a short period of time, another person confronted Peter. “You were with Jesus.” Peter once again responded, “I am not.” Time passed and another person approached Peter and said, “Surely you were with Jesus. You are also a Galilean.” Peter quickly replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Immediately, chills ran down Peter’s spine as he heard the rooster crow. He realized what had taken place. How could he? After adamantly proclaiming that he would follow Jesus to the death, how could he possibly reject the Son of God? The pain was too much. He ran out of the courtyard and wept bitterly.
The trial continued and Jesus was beaten severely. He was made to carry the cross up to the hill called Golgotha and there he was crucified. It seemed to be over. The man in whom Peter had placed his trust was gone. Surely he thought the last few years were wasted. What would he do now that his Savior was dead? He went back into the fishing business.
Days passed as all seemed hopeless. Each day confirmed the fact that Jesus was indeed dead. But something happened on the first day of the week. When Mary and Martha went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, the body was gone and angels proclaimed that Jesus had risen. News quickly spread that Jesus was alive. His disciples came face to face with the risen Savior. The rumors were confirmed. Indeed the beloved Savior was alive and well. Peter, however, was not in the room with the other disciples when Jesus appeared. He was out on the Sea of Galilee all night but caught nothing. Exhausted and tired, Peter decided to head back to shore. Before the boat made it to the shore, a stranger called out, “Do you have any fish?” Peter answered, “No.” The stranger told them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. I’m sure Peter was frustrated with this person. He had been working hard all night and just wanted to go home and get some rest. But what would it hurt to give it a try? What did he have to lose? Peter throws the net on the other side of the boat and something amazing happened. Peter and the other disciples with him couldn’t even haul in all the fish they had caught. John proclaims, “It’s Jesus.” John barely gets those words out of his mouth before Peter jumped into the water and began swimming to the shore.
Now on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Peter stands face to face with the one he denied. Ironically enough, they were standing in front of a fire. Peter was in for it now. He remembered just a few days earlier standing at a fire and denying the Son of God, but amazingly there were no questions about the past. No “I told you so-s.” As they sat eating the fish and bread, Jesus and Peter had a conversation. Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Peter answered affirmatively all three times.
After this conversation, Jesus uttered the words, “Follow me.” What? How could he possibly still ask Peter to follow him after all he had done? Not long after this reinstatement of Peter as an apostle, Jesus ascended into Heaven to take his place at the right hand of the Father. The next time we see Peter is on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit comes down and the people are filled. Some suppose that these people are drunk, but Peter stands up and proclaims that these people are indeed filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter tells everyone in attendance about this man named Jesus who lived on earth, died as a sacrifice for our sins on the cross, and then rose from the dead. When Peter finishes, the people were stunned. They felt the conviction power of the Holy Spirit and asked Peter what they needed to do. Peter told them, “Repent.”
On that day, around three thousand people accepted this gift of salvation that Peter had proclaimed. God used a man who denied Him to bring one of the greatest revivals in history. God did not have to use Peter. He could have let Peter do his own thing. Jesus did not need Peter. He chose Peter. Jesus could have raised someone else up to preach on the Day of Pentecost, but He wanted Peter. Peter was being molded into an individual who could be used in an incredible way. Even through his mistake of denying the Son of God, Jesus never stopped loving him.