During this Lenten season I have been reflecting on the passion of our Lord.  Peter keeps  coming to mind as I think of the men who read this blog.  Peter can be a great encouragement for us, when we fail our Lord. I consider Peter the Patron Saint of  a men’s “Soul Care” group. Peter was a “real guy.”  He was a rough, seasoned fishermen.  He was the outspoken leader of the 12 disciples.  After Pentecost he was the a leader in the early church.  Jesus called him a “rock.”  He said confidently to Jesus, “…I’m ready for anything with you.  I’d go to jail for you.  I’d die for you!” (The Message Luke 22:33).

But he denied Jesus  three times, just as Jesus had predicted.  The last denial was accompanied by a curse.  “Then he began to curse and swear, ‘I don’t know the man!'” (Matt 26:74).  Here is a manly man swearing that he know nothing of Jesus.  Wow.  What a fall.  Luke tells us that after the third denial, “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.” (22:60).  Imagine the pathos for Jesus and Peter’s utter failure. When Peter remembered  Jesus prediction we are told, “he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:62).  Yet after the resurrection Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him.  Each time Peter said, “You know that I love you.”  This is the same man who denied Jesus only a few days prior.

Remember Jesus said this would happen.  Jesus has said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-2).  The enemy certainly tried to separate (sift) Peter from the Lord.  Jesus know this would happen.  So he tells Peter that he is praying for him.  Through this experience, Peter would be able to help others, because even in failure he experienced God’s love, not rejection.

So men, how do you see  yourself in the denial of Peter.  Here is my encouragement.  The focus of the story should be on Jesus’ relationship with Peter, not that of Peter.  Peter, blow it big time.  So will we.  We can say that it will not be so, but like Peter it will happen.  What Peter remembered through this sad story is the love Jesus had for him.  That is why Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him.  Peter could say Yes, because he know how much Jesus loved him.

So there you have it men.  Open your heart and soul to receive the great love God has for you.  Let it sink into your soul.  Bask in this love.  Know it is true.  Like Peter you will blow it.  When your spiritual eyes meet those of  Jesus, similar to that of Peter, what you will encounter are the eyes of loving kindness.  Jesus sees through your failure.  You are being shifted.  In the midst of your failure and recovery, don’t take your eyes of Jesus.  His love for you will overwhelm you with gratitude and thanksgiving.  I know this is true because I am “a beloved sinner” like Peter.