Mark 14 v 54 & 66 - 72

What we can so easily ignore in the tale of Peter's denial is his initial bravery. He had drawn his sword in front of the mob, declaring that he was willing to fight to the death for Jesus, and had succeeded in wounding the servant of the High Priest. Common sense may then have encouraged most to lay low in awareness of the religious leaders far greater power, but Peter goes to the courtyard of the High Priest's house. All the others had fled, but Peter stuck obdurately with Jesus as far as was possible.

However, his commitment failed when it began to dawn on him how vulnerable he was, just as it had when he walked on water towards Jesus. Huddled in his cloak, he was trying to stay warm by the fire when suddenly his face was lit up by a spark and he was recognised. He stayed where he was but began to deny that he had ever known Jesus. However, his human strength was at last destroyed by the sound of the bugle call announce the changing of the Roman guard. This would have taken place at 3 am and the Latin word for the bugle call was the same as for 'cock-crow'. He had remained at his post for some hours, he was a man with huge courage, but Peter had a breaking point just the same as any of us.

To add depth to this story, we should recall that John Mark wrote this Gospel and got his information from Mary and from Peter: hence, Peter narrated this story against himself! In the last chapter of John's Gospel, he tells the reader of Peter's meeting with the risen Christ and the words of love from Jesus: ''Peter, do you love me more than these?''.

Peter was a man of immense courage who had grown to rely on that alone. He had to learn that he too could be broken so as to learn compassion for his fellow believers. In his first letter, Peter wrote: ''Sympathise with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tender hearted and keep a humble attitude.'' Many of us have experienced a period of brokenness and have begun to learn that we have to trust in God as our Rock, not to cry out at the end of our lives: ''I did it my way!'' But to shout, ''I leant on God and He was always there, my Rock and my Redeemer!''

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