Several years ago, I helped put the story below together for Under Over Fellowship’s Good Friday service. We did a four part reading of the story of Easter from Peter’s perspective. I would like to share it with you. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read it in preparation for this weekend and hope it will be a blessing. I posted a portion of the story yesterday (see Maundy Thursday) today, and will tomorrow, and then Sunday.
PART TWO OF FOUR
Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
This is an account of Good Friday, as it is now called. But at the time, it was a bad Friday, to say the least, for me. It was the day my Lord died.
Last night they took Jesus to the high priest’s house. It looked like there was quite a crowd assembled. All the lights were lit inside and every few moments there was coming and going. I managed to get in to the courtyard and I went and sat, as nonchalantly as I could, with the guards as they warmed themselves around the fire. I tried to be inconspicuous. I just listened to everything. One of the servant girls began to stare at me and came over and she said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” I looked at her and shook my head and said, “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” She went away and I breathed again. I walked out to the forecourt to stay out of the way. After a while another servant girl came along and she began to tell the rest standing around that, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” I swore an oath and said, “I do not know the man.” That seemed to shut her up. A few minutes later one of the bystanders came up to me and said, “Certainly you are one of them, for your accent betrays you. You are Galilean.” That did it! I began to curse and I swore an oath that I did not know this man!
As I finished speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked at me. Then I remembered. I remembered what Jesus said; that before the rooster crowed I would deny him three times. I broke. I thought my life was over. Great shuddering heaves seized me and the tears blinded me as I tore out of the courtyard and down the narrow streets. Running. Running to I do not know where. Sobbing. Heaving. Shamed to the core. I could not believe I would let him down. How could I have done that? I denied my Lord. Now in a short time period I had slept when my Lord asked me to do something and now I denied knowing him. I know. I was there.
I don’t remember the dawn. I just know that after a while I realized it was day. I was wandering around in a daze in the lower city. I realized that I didn’t know what was happening. I was so caught up in my own grief that I forgot all about Jesus and what he must be going through. I had to find out.
I started back up towards the High Priest’s house. When I got there someone told me that they had taken him to Pilate, the Roman governor. That did not sound good. Nearing the Governor’s palace I heard all kinds of noise and shouting. The crowd was really worked up. I heard the shouts, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” As I jostled through the crowd I could see Jesus standing beside the governor. He looked awful. A crown of thorns on his head. Blood on his face. Pale like he was in shock. He seemed to sway as he stood there. Pilate raised his hands. The crowd quieted a little. “All right. I give you my decision. Barabbas goes free. This ‘King of the Jews,’ this Jesus, is to be crucified.” The crowd cheered. My heart sank.
It was then I got really angry at God. Why, oh why have you forsaken him? Why? Where are you God? This is supposed to be your Son, the Messiah. Why does he have to die? These thoughts and others swirled around inside my head. I didn’t even notice that the crowd seemed to be moving at first. Then I heard the harsh shouts of the Roman soldiers making a way through the crowds. Pressed up against my neighbors I watched as I saw the wood of a cross come towards me. Then I saw my Lord slumped under its weight not six feet from me. He looked up at me and all my anger for God dissipated. The last time I saw those eyes I had denied him myself. Now those eyes, glazed with pain, were looking into my soul. Why was it him and not me? I still did not understand. I was scared and I, too, was in shock. Everything was happening so fast. My Lord was going to die. Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there? Sometimes it causes me to tremble. I know. I was there.
It was nine o’ clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.
Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, come down from that cross! In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
When it was noon, darkness came over the the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come take him down.” Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last breath.
After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews.
Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
I beg of you now friends, learn from me! First my master asked me to do something and I slept instead. Now I denied him, denied even knowing him. You don’t know how bad I wish I could change that now. So I ask you now brothers and sisters…..are you denying God? Are you denying Jesus with the way you are living your life. Learn from me!
I have a special challenge for you. If you are denying Jesus with the way you are living your life, even in one little area, I want you to give it to Him right now. What is holding you back? What is keeping your from being called Rock, the man or woman God has intended you to be. Learn from me, let Him call your Rock, a man or woman solid in your faith. One that will one day hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant,” when you meet the Lord face to face. Believe me, when that day comes, you will not want to be called Simon. Learn from me! Right now, give whatever might be holding you back over to God. Nail it to the cross and never take it back.