The context of being a Christian in North America presents us with a luxury: most of us will never face a situation where we risk bodily harm, imprisonment, or death to confess our faith in Jesus Christ. When we hear this account of Peter’s denial of Christ, we may have a hard time understanding the depth of his fear of being exposed as a disciple. Peter’s terror comes from knowing that Jesus faces suffering and death, and he does not want to follow this path.
Peter is everything that Christ has said about him: one who makes the confession of faith, one who loses faith and denies Christ, a forgiven sinner and a proclaimer of the gospel. In Peter, we see ourselves: a story of our own life in Christ, and a pattern of what happens to us all.
Though our reading ends at a low point for Peter, there is hope for him-and for us-in Christ’s command: “once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” By the power of the Holy Spirit, those who lose their faith can find it again. Those who have turned back are called to journey with and comfort those who have turned away.
Merciful God, where we have fallen away, bring us back to your light and life. Send us out to seek others in need of such support. Amen. — JCB