And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.
– Mark 14:26-31
And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
– Mark 14:66-72
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
– John 21:15-19
Shame and regret are powerful. They bind us up and hold us captive. The wounds of shame and regret can seem never to scab over and even when they do, these wounds are easily opened again.
Shame and regret were surely felt by Peter after denying Jesus three times. He went from being cocksure to crushed when the cock crowed.
You might be able to relate to Peter, in fact I suspect that you can. Who hasn’t been in his shoes? Confident that you won’t fail, that even though everyone else has failed you will surely succeed. But then failing…sinning.
Can you imagine the same Peter felt in his heart? How difficult would it be for him to face his fellow disciples? How difficult would it be for him to face Jesus?
I suspect that this is why the angel at the empty tomb told the women, But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.
Tell his disciples…and Peter.
The angel was not indicating that Peter was excluded from among the disciples, rather that he was included. “Don’t forget to include him too!”
Later Peter spoke with Jesus face to face. Can you imagine the shame and guilt he must have felt? He had betrayed Jesus! And after being so arrogant in claiming that though everyone else might do so, he could never deny Jesus.
But the resurrection of Jesus means an end to shame too. Jesus bore the guilt of Peter on the cross. His shameful act had already been paid in full.
So now Jesus restores Peter. As Peter had denied Jesus three times, so now Peter is restored three times. This is an absolution for Peter. His shame is atoned. He is blessed. Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. -Psalm 32:1
What past sin is bothering you? What causes you shame? Jesus has paid for it in full upon the cross and His resurrection means forgiveness and new life for you in eternity, but also right now.
- Shame often causes people to avoid interacting with others. Why?
- One of the problems with the past is that we can’t change it. How does the suffering, death, and resurrection help us to deal with past regrets?
- When Peter became a leader in the early church, how do you think this experience helped him in dealing pastorally with others who had shame and regrets?
- The law points out our sins to us. It can’t help us overcome shame. How does the gospel help us to deal with shame?
Heavenly Father, our hearts are filled with shame and regret. We have sinned against you and against others. Forgive our sin. Remind us of how you have covered our sin with your blood. Free us to share that freedom and good news with other, In the name of the risen Jesus, Amen!