And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him? Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.
This story of Peter is something we can all relate to in some way or another. The setting here is Jesus has just been taken to the midnight trial. As they question Jesus in front of the high priest, Peter takes this opportunity to duck out of sight and try to hide himself among the crowd outside. Warming himself beside the fire, the women that are there identify Peter as one of the Disciples of Christ. Peter then denies he even knows Jesus and certainly not one of His followers.
To make this even more interesting, just hours before, Peter stands strong and with absolute confidence that he would follow Jesus and stand by him, even to the death. Well, I think we all start off strong don’t we? We all know what it’s like to make commitments of faith in the presence of God at an altar service or in the presence of other disciples. It is when the church service is over and all your church friends are far away that our faith is truly tested.
Peter found himself in the cold, away from God and away from the church. It was here that he tried to find warmth by the fires of this world.
Has your faith ever gone cold? Can you relate to this moment in Peters life? I think we all can to some degree. Not only was Jesus standing trial, but I believe that Peter’s faith was on trial as well. When you begin to question your faith, question what you believe and why you believe it. When you are alone and don’t know all the answers, your faith is on trial. Peter’s heart burned so hot in the presence of God, but somewhere in the cold night his zeal turned ice cold, now warming himself by the fire of the world.
Friend, let me share with you there is no physical fire that will ever rekindle the flame you once had in your heart for God. People try to replace the fire of God with alcohol, drugs, relationships, hobbies…the list goes on and on. While these fires may warm you for a season let me assure you, they will eventually go out. They will leave you colder than when you began, they will leave you reeking of the smoke of UN-Godliness and will leave you scarred with burns as you try and get too close to the flames.
Peter soon realized something that most eventually learn as well, and that is this; No matter how far away your get from God there is no escape. Even though Peter tried to disguise himself in the crowd, they could identify him as one who had been with Jesus in that secret place. “Did I not see thee in the garden with him?”. When you have been with God like this you are marked for life and there is no escape. Once you have been identified with Him through His name…once you have followed him to places not many would dare to go…once you have experienced the power of His awesome Glory…seen and touched the miraculous…walked on water…seen blinded eyes opened…cast out devils…once you have been with Him, there is no escape…you are marked…you’re his…you belong to Him…you wear a brand that everyone knows and there is something different about you. You don’t act like everyone else. As hard as you try, you just cannot seem to fit into the crowd. It’s a mark that you cannot wear off, wash off, or ever truly deny. Anyone who has been baptized in Jesus Name and filled with His Spirit is most certainly “marked”.(John 1:12-13, Rev 14:1)
Cain also knew what it was like to wear a mark. As punishment for murder, God marked Cain so that no matter where he went, everyone would recognize who he was and what he had done. Cain walked around with guilt and the blood of his brother on his hands. Paranoid that his judgment for denying God and killing his brother would come. I think many who bear the mark of God walk around thinking that every conversation MUST be about them. Every Facebook post is referring to them. Every time someone even mentions God, or church or your “old” life, you get nervous and even angry. This my friend, is when you realize that there is no escape from a life, tormented, outside of the presence of God. Living in the land East of Eden, you realize that no matter how far you go, no matter how many times you’ve denied him, cursed him, and slandered His church…there is no escape.
Judas was another man who was marked by God. After Judas betrayed Jesus, he felt the same guilt and shame that Cain must have felt. Running for his life, Judas must have said in his heart “this mark, this punishment, is simply more than I can bear”. Judas realized that no matter where he went, no matter how far he traveled, he could never, ever escape the mark of God. So, Judas committed the ultimate sin and ended his own life.
I’m thankful that Peter’s story did not end at the camp fire that night. You see, as Peter denied Jesus the 3rd time, the roster crowed, and Peter remembered what the Lord had spoke to him just a few hours before; “Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice” John 13:38. At this moment, Jesus looked out the window into the courtyard where Peter was standing. The Lords eyes locked into Peter’s eyes, no words needed to be spoken, but I cannot even imagine how cold Peter must have felt now. The next 3 days must have been hard for Peter. Hearing that his Rabbi was tried, convicted and then killed by crucifixion. Peter tried to go back to what normal life he could figure out when the news came that Jesus was not only alive but asked to meet with all of the disciples. Jesus not only asked to for His disciples to be gathered together to meet Him, but asked for Peter by name. When Peter heard this, he ran to where Jesus was, fell at his feet and declared his undying love for his Savior.
Peter now realized that no matter how far he traveled, no matter how many times he denied Jesus, no matter how bad his faith failed; there was no escape. Jesus would always reach him, Jesus would always love him, and Jesus would always take him back. Friend, once you’ve been marked, you can run but you cannot hide from the love of Jesus.
For I am persuaded , that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.