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Briefing: How often have you arrested a person and they began to cry? In my experience, the people who cry are more upset about being caught than out of remorse for their crime.

Dispatch (Assignment): Read John 18:25-27.

On the Street: The human instinct of self-preservation is a powerful response. I once chased a car-jacking subject from the wrecked car he had stolen, through a neighborhood, and into a house. As he ran through the back yard and into the house, I lost sight of him. When I entered the house, he was sitting at a table, trying to act like he had been there all day long. It was kind of comical to see him breathing like he had just finished a marathon and to see the sweat pouring down his face, realizing he expected us to believe he was not the guy we were looking for.

The owner of the house came into the room and saw me arresting the man. I asked if she knew him and she said she had never seen him before. I arrested him and walked him to my car. As we approached the squad car he said, “I can’t believe my own mom won’t cover for me.” I returned to the house to get information from the owner and asked her if the man I just arrested was her son. She admitted that he was her son and said she was afraid if she admitted he was her son that she would be in trouble too.

John and Peter served together as Jesus’ disciples. Jesus had a special group within the twelve that He took with Him on special occasion (Peter, James, and John). I believe that John and Peter had a brotherly bond that grew with time. They loved each other as co-laborers in Christ. This may be why John’s Gospel does not go into great detail about how Peter responded to his denial of Jesus.

Matthew’s account gives us a more in-depth view of how Peter respond after his third denial. “Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Matthew 26:74 (NIV). Once Peter’s mind caught up to his mouth, “he went outside and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:75 (NIV). Mark and Luke’s Gospel accounts have different wording but the same description.

At some point in our life, we all experience the feeling of being ashamed. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary says that “ashamed” is feeling shame, guilt, or disgrace. The definition of shame is similar but more powerful. It is a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. It is also a condition of humiliating disgrace.

Peter went from being ashamed to feeling shame. A few hours later, his emotional decline would continue as he heard the news of Jesus’ crucifixion. He was a broken man. Peter would have three days of drowning in this emotional pain, but just like when he lost faith after walking on the water, Jesus was there to pull him out.

Jesus knew how upset Peter was over the denial. When Jesus is resurrected, Mary goes to the place where Jesus was buried. When she gets to the tomb, she sees an angel who tells her, “go, tell His disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter is the only disciple mentioned by name. I feel certain that Peter went through his own dark three days, although not physical death but emotional death.

In Peter’s brokenness, Jesus picks up the pieces and puts them back together. He reconciles Peter to Himself and shows him forgiveness and love.

Jesus does not give up on any of us. Peter committed an act of betrayal he thought he would not be able to recover from. Have you done something you feel is so bad that you cannot be forgiven for? Jesus wants to reconcile your relationship.

Investigational Resources: Matthew 26:71-75, Mark 14:69-72, and Luke 22:58-62.

Officer Safety Principle: Forgiveness is cleansing.

from The Gospel of John Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
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