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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 residence of Caiaphas was the same time 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 as "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 could stand 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 Gospel writer 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 as Peter did, but we have likely rejected Him by our actions at one time or another. This passage is recorded to show God's mercy and complete forgiveness. God often allows us to experience pain, for it is an excellent teacher. Usually, when our suffering makes us hit rock bottom, and we are broken of our pride and self-adequacy, 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. My trial and test were 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 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 to break me and bring deeper trust and dependence on God into 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-five years I have followed Jesus, I have learned that God uses our life experiences as a school to teach 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, or an impatient child. The list is endless. The Lord will bring about situations in our lives that will lead us to a place where our self-dependence and strong will is broken, and we place our complete trust in Him, crying out, "not my will, but yours be done." Keith Thomas

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


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