Peter was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. He was the one who asked: “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother if he has sinned against me? Even seven times?” (Matt. 18:21 – 22). Whereupon Jesus answered him: “I say unto you, not seven times, but even seventy times seven.”
Shortly before Jesus was arrested, He said to Peter: “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” But Peter declared: “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” (Matt. 26:34 – 35).
After Jesus had been arrested Peter found himself in the palace’s courtyard, when a servant girl said: “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you are talking about.” he said. Then he went out to the gateway where another girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He denied it again with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” After a little while those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely, you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them: “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken. “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly (Matt. 26:69 -75).
Thereafter Jesus was brought to trial, sentenced and crucified. The Sunday after his death, an angel appeared to a couple of women at his grave and said to them: “He (Jesus) has risen from the dead… But go and tell the disciples, especially Peter: He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” (Mark 16:7). Did you notice: Peter is specially mentioned! That way Jesus informed Peter: Don’t cry any longer. I saw your tears, you are forgiven. It is forgotten.
Jesus does what He previously advised Peter to do, namely that he must forgive even seventy times seven. A couple of days earlier Jesus, while hanging on the cross, prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus prayed it for the people who crucified Him, but also for us. For the Father to forgive us Jesus had to suffer. We bear as much guilt for Jesus’ crucifixion as those who actually crucified Him. But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received (Isa. 53:5).
Peter changed. His tears of remorse changed into tears of joy. The people who had Jesus crucified, later on forbade Peter to testify about Jesus. But Peter, who before was afraid of servant girls, said to them: “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s eyes to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19 – 20).
Of Peter most would say: “It is the disciple who denied Jesus.” Peter would say: “I am the disciple who was forgiven by Jesus.” And Jesus would say: “People say he denied me, but I can’t remember such a thing.” Because if God forgives us, He means it. He tosses our sin into the deepest ocean (Micah 7:19). He never thinks about it again (Jer 31:34)
Lord, thank you that You also forgive my sins and never think about it again. Make me willing to follow you unconditionally. Amen.