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Trapped by Truth

Mark 14:71-72
He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know this man you’re talking about.' Immediately the cock crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: 'Before the cock crows twice you will disown me three times.' And he broke down and wept. (NIVUK)

A 'curse', in the Bible, is a phrase that is designed to bring disaster: they are powerful words invoking supernatural harm from God.  In Deuteronomy 27:14-26, God commands that His people agree to be subject to God's judgement if they break His law.  Such curses were a part of every covenant in which blessings were pronounced for obedience and curses for disobedience.  In these verses, Peter cursed himself.  It was like the oath of a witness in a courtroom: he swore that he was telling the truth when he said, "I don’t know this man you're talking about."  He put himself under the judgement of God if what he said was untrue.  And it was untrue.

What a mess Peter was in now: trapped between his broken promise to stand by Jesus (Mark 14:29) and his pride that he could still do something to compensate for his own folly; trapped by a girl who recognised the fisherman (Mark 14:66-69) and the religious thugs who correctly identified his accent (Mark 14:70); physically trapped in a gated courtyard, surrounded by religious thugs; trapped under God's judgement for his lies, and trapped by the crowing of a cockerel.   It was that noisy bird which shocked Peter to his core, as it reminded him that some twelve hours earlier, Jesus had prophesied that Peter would deny Him and that a cockerel would denounce him (Mark 14:30).

The bird was God's alarm clock to awaken Peter's conscience - to bring him to the realisation that Jesus was right, and he was wrong.  It certainly worked.  Peter was devastated.  One minute he was in a panic of hopeless pride, hunting for self-preservation.  The next minute he was distraught because he knew he had betrayed Jesus and was under God's wrath for denying that he ever knew Jesus – the one Person whose opinion mattered more to him than anybody else's.  To make matters worse, Luke 22:61 tells us that Jesus turned to look straight at Peter.  It was like a sword to his heart; Peter went out and wept bitterly.

Big boys do cry if they are honest that they have missed the truth by miles - like Peter.  But the Lord is not vindictive (Psalm 103:9).  God's wake-up calls arrive with love (Revelation 3:19) - it is neither in His interest nor ours to remain indifferent to the truth (Psalm 51:3-6).  The alarms are always in God's timing and demand a response of repentance and recommitment.  Like the prophetic calls of the Old Testament, God's Word is designed to bring us to repentance and restore our relationship with Father God through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Often, because of our blindness to our sin, we usually need a shock to remind us that God has spoken.  Paradoxically, the Lord often uses failure to help us get the message that we are not what we think we are, and certainly not what we would like to be.  It is all a part of His gracious way to restore us to His love, through His grace.

Gracious Father. Thank You for choosing to use even my failure to bring me back closer to You. I really value Your wake-up calls and I do repent and recommit myself to humbling myself and obeying You. Please help me to respond in ways that will glorify You and enable me to serve You better in the future. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams