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.
It was not a new story in the least, but for him this was quite a surprise. Call it naiveté or optimism, but a 7-year-old would expect that his best friend could be counted on. They played every day, and even one afternoon apart seemed like an eternity. In school they were constantly asked to pay attention and stop talking. They shared their lunches and their snacks. It was a model friendship until the day they faced trouble. Some bigger kids decided that he was neither cool enough nor tough enough, and they began to mock him and push him around. Just when he needed his friend the most, that boy stood silent and still, too afraid to speak up and suffer the same fate.
Peter’s heart surely was in the right place. He made a promise never to leave Jesus. He even said that he would surrender his own life if need be. His intention was to serve and support his Lord regardless of what or whom came up against him. He could not believe the words of Christ when he was told that he would betray his Lord before the night’s end. How much more unbelievable was it for him to fulfill that prediction! He saw what was happening to Jesus, and he saw the anger and hatred with which he was accused of being a follower of Christ. His betrayal of his Lord was the result of his fear of the consequences brought by man. His faithful heart quivered and cowered when his flesh became a target.
The fear which causes us to fall short of our faithfulness and obedience can take many forms. Sometimes we fear physical pain or discomfort. Sometimes we fear leaving the flesh unsatisfied by the things we think we need in order to live. Sometimes we fear the loss of man’s esteem and favor. This is all fear of the temporary and unimportant. We have eternal life and security on the other side of obedience and faithfulness, and that should be enough to trump the fear which make us want to take the easy way out and settle for falling short. Father, give us courage which comes from godly wisdom, not living in fear of that which can crush the body and bruise the ego but never damage the soul.