Inner Formation of the Heart

Part 19: Jesus Helps Peter Become Aware of a Gap

    Posted by Klaus Issler on February 18, 2010

            Consider how Jesus attempted to identify a gap in Peter’s life. During the Last Supper before Jesus was arrested, Peter—the lead disciple in Jesus’ band of close companions—strongly affirmed his loyalty to Jesus. Jesus warned Peter the devil would soon test each of the disciples (“you all” plural, Lk 22:31), and Jesus had specifically prayed for Peter’s faith to hold firm (“you” singular, Lk 22:32). Jesus added that, although Peter would fall, “when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers”  (Lk 22:32). Yet Peter could not hear Jesus’ encouragement that Jesus had prayed for him and that Jesus noted Peter’s key role in encouraging the other disciples. Was it his pride or just his defensiveness that took over when he announced with bravado, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!" (Lk 22:33)?  Jesus’ response? Peter would deny Jesus three times before a rooster crowed.

            Much later that evening, as Jesus appeared before the high priest, Peter snuck into the courtyard to follow the proceedings.  While he warmed himself by the fire, various ones identified Peter as Jesus’ disciple.  Each time he denied it, the last time “he began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know the man!’” (Matt 26:74, Mk 14:71).  The rooster crowed and Jesus’ and Peter’s eyes connected. Peter remembered Jesus’ words “and [Peter] went outside and wept bitterly” (Matt 26:75; Lk 22:62).  Peter thought he was the most stalwart of the disciples: “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (Matt 26:33).  Jesus had pointed out the gap, but Peter was not ready to listen. So we will need to invite God, and trusted others, to give us feedback about our gaps—in a loving and non-judgmental manner—“speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:16).  

Next Musing: Part 20: Conclusion of Inner Heart Series

Dr. Klaus Issler