April 17, 2024

Peter's Denial - Morning Devotion on Apr. 17, 2024

Peter's Denial

Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, "This man was with him." But he denied it. "Woman, I don't know him," he said.

A little later someone else saw him and said, "You also are one of them." "Man, I am not!" Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, "Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean." Peter replied, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Luke 22:54-62

I want you to know that even Peter, who supposedly was Jesus' chief disciple, denied Jesus at the end of three years. This test of loyalty is the formula of faith that all men have had to pass through... You may wonder why you do this, but remember that this is the way I went.

The Tradition of the Unification Church
December 11, 1977

While Jesus was going the path of the crucifixion, the lonesome path to the summit of Golgotha, he looked back at Peter, who was the representative of the beloved twelve apostles. That was because Jesus feared that Peter, who should be the first one following him, might change his mind. You need to become the ones who experience again the sense of being gazed at by Jesus, who looked back at Peter with a loving heart despite having bitter grief in his heart over the fullness of his concern about God's will.

Yet three times Peter denied he knew Jesus. Therefore, he ended up standing in a situation where he was completely separate from the will of heaven and had nothing to do with Jesus. Although Jesus knew all of this, he wanted to find just one person on this earth who could defend him to the last and could deeply sympathize with him as he walked the path to death. So he turned and looked back at Peter, who was the best, most beloved disciple. You of today should understand that Jesus' intention to find one true person was buried deep in the gaze that he sent in the direction of the beloved disciple, Peter.

There cannot be any more grievous situation than this for Jesus, who came with the responsibility of carrying out the whole dispensation of God. Not even one person could understand his feelings of longing and lamentation, as he looked to find even one person who could inherit his mission as he headed for the path of Golgotha, the path of death, owing to the distrust of humankind. Jesus' heartrending feelings were beyond description. Only God understood Jesus' sorrowful heart and worried about his lamentable situation.

When Jesus reflected on the course of toilsome effort he had walked representing heaven, alone in bitter sorrow for his lifetime, the indignation with which he wanted to curse humanity and to call down scorn on the earth pierced him to the very marrow. But Jesus restrained himself and stopped to look back at Peter, who was following behind. You should know that unless you can understand such inner feelings of Jesus' heart, you cannot proudly stand in front of all humankind after inheriting Jesus' work for the dispensation of God.

What then would be the heart of Peter, who was watching Jesus finish his life by walking the course of tribulation alone? He must have been in awful misery, pining in desolation, not being able to forget the original nature of the love relationship he had with Jesus in the past. How Peter's heart must have ached, as he watched the grieving and innocent Jesus being insulted and rebuked and dragged in bonds. However, because Peter did not fully realize Jesus was the Messiah who came with the mission to save the whole of humankind, he ended in a situation where he could not step forward. Instead he thought only of himself. When servant girls came out to ask Peter whether he was one of the fellows who were with Jesus, he replied, "I do not know him" three times. You should know this clearly -- that aspect of Peter was the representative attitude of humankind on the earth. When we look back upon the circumstances of Jesus and Peter again, the fact that Jesus turned to look back at Peter, who had denied him three times, did not take place only between Peter and Jesus, but is revealed to have happened throughout the course of the whole of history.

When all humanity steps forward before Satan as true Christians on behalf of the will of Christ, they will definitely meet ungrounded accusations three times....

In what kind of situation should we stand when such a time of fierce battle comes upon the earth? We should not be standing in a situation similar to Peter's when he said he did not know Jesus. What should become those triumphant sons and daughters who can defend the course of blood, sweat, and tears that Jesus walked to the end? We should stand with Jesus, having repented of all of our excuses, circumstances, sinfulness, and inadequacy. Unless we can stand in such a position, we cannot take part in the glory of receiving the returning Lord.

Although Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus truly turned himself around to look at Peter. Consequently, when Peter saw Jesus forget all about his own difficulties and sorrow to turn around and look at him, a complete revolution took place in his mind. Despite his three dreadful denials of knowing Jesus, when Peter saw that Jesus truly cared about him and worried about his future, he experienced an explosion of emotion within. At that moment he remembered and sensed the old relationship of having shared the joys and sorrows of the Lord. Peter became aware of his own identity on the spot.

Peter saw that Jesus, who determined to risk his own life to accomplish the will of heaven, was making a great effort to proudly cultivate the path of salvation for humankind without letting himself be overly affected by the resentment that he felt as a human being. Peter saw that even as Jesus walked the path toward heaven and death, he was still concerned about his well-being. This made Peter feel insufficient and inadequate internally In other words, when Peter contrasted the position of Jesus, who represents God, and his own position, which was to represent Jesus as the disciple who had pledged to render him devoted service, he saw that there existed a world of difference between his devotion to Jesus and Jesus' reverence for God.

What is more, although Peter had thought he believed in Jesus, at that moment he found out that his faith was based on self-centeredness rather than on heaven-centeredness, as was the case with the Lord. At the gaze of Jesus Peter received such a great shock as to be deeply ashamed of himself. He lamented over his unbelief.

What did Peter feel next? He felt his own disbelief and simultaneously the disbelief of Jesus' entourage. While watching those wicked ones around him tie Jesus up and enjoy themselves whipping Jesus Christ, who was innocent, and about whom anybody and everybody would say he was guiltless, Peter met the gaze of the persecuted Jesus and saw his sorrowful and lonesome heart. Bathed in Jesus' warm glow being sent in his direction, Peter felt the haughtiness of the surroundings. At that moment Peter made a righteous resolution to fight against the arrogant power of the surroundings until the time when the Lord would return to destroy the wicked.

There was a cosmic difference between the good, immutable attitude of Jesus who was heading toward heaven and the haughtiness of his surroundings. Through Jesus' brief gaze, Peter could liquidate his fatuous life history and determine to establish the standard of goodness by fighting against the environment and devoting himself to God all the more. Through Jesus' dying in silence for the sake of heaven, earth, humankind, and God's will, Peter came to respect the Lord naturally and shed penitential tears, weeping bitterly in the face of such a death.

As Jesus Christ turned to look for the last time, he realized that there was a disciple who understood him. At that moment the link that had been disconnected between God and humankind was being restored. Feeling insufficient and inadequate toward Jesus, who died before the will of God on behalf of heaven and earth, Peter alone shed the tears of contrition representing all humankind and the many disciples. After seeing that Jesus was being put to tribulations before being crucified, only Peter wailed, shedding tears. This created a standard by which Jesus could uphold the dispensation centering on the disciples and a new standard by which Jesus and humankind could connect.

Jesus Who Looks Bach on Walking the Path of His Fate
February 10, 1957

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