We’ll likely never walk on water. This is a safe bet.
Often, I read the Gospel narratives and imagine what it would be like to share some of the apostle Peter’s experiences. He walked on water, watched the dead raised, saw bread multiplied to feed thousands, hosted Moses and Elijah on a mountain, and saw Jesus transfigured before his eyes. To be sure, these are experiences unique to him and a few others. They are not normative for Christians throughout history.
But there is one experience that I do share with him. And I bet you do too.
Do you remember that scene in Luke where Peter denied Jesus? After the anticipated rooster crowed, Jesus turned and looked at Peter. Recalling the words of Christ predicting his actions, he ran out and wept bitterly (Luke 22:54-62).
Peter denied Jesus before people. He was a coward. He feared the face and favor of man. Bartering a moment of coveted peace and comfort he bargained away the vastly more precious commodity: a clear conscience that comes with faithfulness and courage.
We likely haven’t heard a literal rooster crow but certainly a figurative one. We have quickly made the sale ourselves. Caving to temptations and fear we have said and acted like we don’t know him.
And while we haven’t beheld the face of Christ across the dimly lit Middle Eastern night, we have not escaped his gaze. His eyes meet ours. His ever-seeing eyes behold all of our actions just as he is always in ear-shot of our words. He sees, and he hears. Furthermore, we feel his gaze through the Word of God. This mirror looks back at us. What’s more, we sense his presence among us through the Holy Spirit.
Though the circumstances might be a bit different, the core is the same. He sees us. We behold his lovely face. And we sin.
It’s hard to believe that someone who loves Jesus would deny him like this, isn’t it? But Peter’s tears inform our eyes to see. They wash away the scales so that we can see what flows from his heart. This weeping is not a gentle sob. It’s associated with mourning (Mark 5:38) and deep lament (Matt. 2:18). He feels this to his core. He is grieving his sin. He is broken because he loves Jesus.
This is what Christians have shared and desired to share again with Peter. We sin and grieve over our sin. We repent, crying before and clinging to Christ. Like Peter, we confess our love and loyalty to him through the tears of repentance (John 21:15ff). And like Peter, we know that he binds up the broken and wipes away the tears (Isa. 30:26; Rev. 21:4). Though we mourn, we shall indeed laugh.
Reading this account makes me praise God for his grace. May God grant that we love him enough to obey and weep when we don’t.