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Peter went out and wept bitterly. (Lk 22:62)

During the miracle of the fishes Peter felt the pain of his sinful life and separation from God (Lk 5:8). The real significance of that miracle is that it accused Peter of his mediocre life in comparison to the power of a holy God. Before God soundly saves a man He thoroughly convicts him. It has also been said that before God uses a man greatly He hurts him deeply. There’s a hurt that’s holy. There’s a hurt that heals.

As human beings God will grieve us and hurt us, if you will, so His healing can be released. Permanent “heals” come from deep hurts. Sure joys come from deep sorrows. The power of His resurrection comes from the fellowship of His sufferings. If you’re grieving for whatever reason, even if it’s for yourself (like Peter), you are closer to God than you may think. You’re closer to the Lord than most happy people. Happy people are shallow because happiness is based on circumstances. Joyful people are deep because joy is based on the Lord. And the Lord was a man acquainted with grief and sorrow.

Think of Peter for a moment. He had been in ministry with Jesus for more than three years, but his base and focus was still off. Although he had left everything to be in ministry, his basis was still platform, position, and performance based. Peter was convicted of sin at the beginning, but now he was convicted of self. The sword went deeper this time. It was a bitter blow that cut to the core of his nature.

There’s a little Peter in all of us. His words were great; his actions were often heroic; but his motives were always in question. Hidden for some time, pressure finally revealed what was in his heart. In a day where we are taught to believe and to speak great things about ourselves, we need a fresh revelation of how deceptive our self-nature can be. Peter was always bold and fearless when he was with the “team” (the apostles and Jesus). Alone, he denied Jesus. Under pressure, he bent; he bowed. How could he have denied the One he loved? It’s real simple. Peter denied Jesus because he did not deny himself. His basis for ministry was position and performance. It was self based, not love based.

Wasn’t it Peter who struck the servant of the high priest’s ear in the presence of a multitude with swords and clubs (Mat 26:51-55)? What a fearless act! What a bold performance! How could this same man deny Jesus in the presence of a servant girl? And let’s not forget that Peter wasn’t the only one who boasted of his allegiance to Jesus. All the disciples did (Mat 26:35). And when the pressure was on, the disciples also forsook Jesus and fled (v 56).

In the presence of his “teammates” Peter performed, but in the presence of a servant girl he became deformed. He changed colors. One moment he was red with retaliation and seeming boldness. But the next moment he was yellow with timidity. He acted like a “rock”, but he was still a “reed”. His hand was strong with the sword, but his heart was weak. With the Lord, “hand” service is one thing, but “heart” service is what He wants. In the garden Peter slept. Then later he wept. In the garden he failed to prepare for the coming storm, so his house was shaken. It would result in the death of a promise, not the Lord’s, but Peter’s.

These turn of events at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry were not necessarily the best way for Peter to learn about himself. Remember, it was the devil’s plan to sift Peter. However, the scriptures and history tell us that in most cases, unless some men utterly fail, they will not be broken and humbled. The earlier sword used by Peter to cut a man’s ear was now cutting his heart. It wasn’t the servant’s ear that needed breaking, but Peter’s heart.

The servant’s ear would only hurt for a moment, but Peter’s heart would hurt for a few more nights. The servant’s ear would be healed immediately (by Jesus), but Peter’s healing would be delayed. He boasted of his dying, but Jesus spoke of his denying. In the act of his denial, those words of Jesus would bitterly wound Peter. The servant’s pain was only skin deep. Peter’s pain pierced his heart. He would finally see himself for who he really was. Then he would be changed.

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