And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.
Peter had been faced with the prediction that he would betray his Lord, and the thought seemed unimaginable to him. He had spent three years following this man, learning from him, worshiping him. Time after time, Jesus had proven who He is, and his faithfulness to his followers was unparalleled. Peter did not enjoy riches or prestige with Jesus and his fellow disciples, or at least not by the world’s standards. Yet, he believed in his devotion that he would die for Christ without question. Such was his love for the Lord. Then, the opportunity arose to stand by that sentiment, and he could not. Peter felt nervousness or fear or both, and the moment passed him by. All he could do was try to preserve himself.
There are those things which we declare in private and those which we declare before the world. I remember being a child and having a friend who was even less cool than I was, if that were even possible. When the other kids were not around, he was good enough to be my friend. If no one was around to care, I did not care, but the story changed once we got to school. There was pressure to buckle, and I buckled. I thought I had conviction sufficient to stand by my friend, but I was wrong. I cared more about myself than about him. I was not yet mature enough to see that putting myself on the line for him was greater than putting him on the line for me.
Peter could sacrifice himself to honor Christ or sacrifice Christ to honor himself. That is the choice with which we are presented when we are asked to stand against the world for Jesus. We love him, and we tell him in private, but we must be able to confess that in the face of the fires of opposition. Strength born of faith is what we need to make it through those times successfully. Conviction must be strong enough to take us from what we think or believe to what we do. Christianity’s requisite self-sacrifice demands it. Father, instill in us the spiritual strength to walk out the courage of our convictions and stand by Christ faithfully.