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Peter’s Broken and Contrite Heart

59About an hour later another asserted, "Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean." 60Peter replied, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." 62And he went outside and wept bitterly (Luke 22:59-62).

How painful it was for Peter to hear the cock crow a second time and be immediately reminded of Jesus' words that, before the cock crows, he would deny his Lord three times. In God's sovereignty, the very same instant when Jesus was brought out of the house of High Priest Annas to go to the house of Caiaphas was the same time that Peter and Jesus heard the cock crowing. As soon as the words of his third denial left Peter's lips, the Lord looked at him, and their eyes connected.

There was no accusation in Jesus' eyes, only sadness for Peter. The Greek word translated "looked" (v. 61) is emblepo.This word describes a fixed look, almost a stare. This look from Jesus broke Peter's heart; he remembered all his protestations that he was capable of standing in the hour of trial, but instead, he failed miserably. He went outside the courtyard and wept bitterly. The verb "wept" describes a sad, mournful cry like those grieving the death of a loved one. He was brokenhearted at his failure.

Why is Peter’s failure recorded for us in such depth? Why would the Holy Spirit inspire each of the Gospel writers to focus so much on Peter’s denial?

This testimony by Luke is not so much focused on Peter's failure as it is about his brokenness and repentance. How quickly he repented. We may never deny the Lord with our lips in the way that Peter did, but it is likely that, at one time or another, we have rejected Him by our actions. This passage is recorded for us to see God's mercy and complete forgiveness. God often allows us to experience pain, for it is an excellent teacher. Usually, it is when our suffering makes us hit rock bottom, and we are broken of our pride and self-adequacy, that we come to a place where we look to the Savior.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51:17).

Peter was broken in his stubborn and prideful will. The place of our brokenness is the place where God can step in and save and heal us. For me, my trial and test were in trying to bring my family back to their home country of the USA. After nineteen years of church planting in England, my American wife wanted to see more of her family. Marijuana convictions, occurring before my conversion to Christ, barred me from residency in the USA. God used this situation as a refining tool to drive me to persevere with my visa problem. I had to wait 19 years for God's timing. The Lord used this whole issue in my life to break me and bring deeper trust and dependence on God in my life.

God’s school of training is more than Bible college and more than head knowledge. His training often includes brokenness and contriteness of heart. Over the last forty years that I have been following Jesus, I have learned that God uses our life experiences as a school to teach us and prepare us for eternity. He molds and shapes our character through everyday situations. Some situations can be very trying, e.g., the death of a family member, a financial need, an impatient child. The list is endless. The Lord will work on our behalf when our self-dependence is gone and we place our complete trust in Him. Keith Thomas

Taken from study 61 in Luke: Peter, the Broken Disciple


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