Sunday, April 17, 2011

Peter: Denying the Lord Yet Continuing in Faith to the End

I had someone point out a new, significant perspective on the story of Peter denying the Lord three times. Peter, we know, was sometimes a little rash in interesting ways: leaping out of the ship to walk on the water until his fears reminded him of the weakness of his faith; anxiously offering to build tabernacles for the divine visitors on the Mount of Transfiguration; and smiting off the ear of the guard among those come to arrest Jesus in the Garden.

I'm sure he was confusedly impetuous as he stealthily followed the Lord's captors and waited outside for purposes he probably didn't completely think through. He likely wanted to do what he could to protect the Lord. Maybe there would be a chance yet to free Him. He may have wanted to learn all he could about what they were doing with Him so he could report it back to the other disciples. It is perfectly understandable that to further any of these options, he tried to disguise himself and as part of that, denied three times that he was with or knew the Man. Then the cock crew and he wept his bitter tears.

The Lord was teaching Peter a very important lesson with His prophecy of Peter's betrayal after Peter's affirmation of his absolute loyalty. We all fall far short. With the noblest of intentions we make covenants and promises to the Lord how we will always be faithful and never betray him. Yet, we do. Every time we sin, and that happens rather often at least with me, we crucify him afresh as part of those sinners into whose hands he was delivered.

And Peter teaches us a great lesson as the response to those short comings. Peter wept his bitter tears of repentance as we must. And then, what was it that Peter did? He continued on. He did more than that being the great leader of the Lord's Church and enduring to the end suffering a tragic, martyr's death much like the Lord's own sacrifice.

And it was that sacrifice that holds the key. Because of the Lord's Atonement, he opened the doors of hell to let us all out. Nothing we could do from the evil in our own hearts has any importance to Him as long as we turn to him in Faith forsaking all else, Repent, and seek after His righteousness as we live by the Spirit to the end of our lives. (3 Nephi 27:13-21). That's it. All we must do is turn to Him. Peter did and two days after his heartbreaking betrayal, the Lord appeared to Peter as one of the first witnesses of His glorious resurrection as the Savior of the World.

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