Author Susan Gale wrote, “Life is like a Ferris wheel. One minute you’re on top, the next you’re at the bottom. Just stay in your seat, enjoy the ride, and hang on until you reach the top again.”
It’s the “stay in your seat and enjoy the ride …” that we and Peter, the fishermen and follower of Jesus, struggle with when down.
Peter just had the most amazing moment on top when Jesus asked all the disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” Only Peter had the right answer. He was publicly praised in front of the others. Yet, only hours following this he went from a hero to a zero.
Jesus explained, “He must go to Jerusalem, suffer many things … and be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Peter heard nothing but “suffer many things.” He reckoned Jesus needed to be corrected and actually began to rebuke Him. The Bible records what Jesus thought of this: “Peter, you are acting just like Satan, being focused on what you want instead of what God wants.”
Though Peter adamantly stated he would never deny Jesus, he certainly did, three times in one night. Yet, his descent downward had further to go.
The Bible records Peter’s final denial, “Man, I don’t know what you are 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 22:60-61).
Its bad enough not coming through for a dear friend in such a great time of need. It’s worse when they look you in the eyes wondering what in the world happened.
“You can always count on me Jesus!” Yet now, while Peter is weeping, Jesus is getting whipped. “I’ll be there for you.” While Peter is sulking, Jesus is getting slugged. “Others will deny you will but I won’t Lord!” While Peter is crying, Jesus is getting crucified.
John, Peter’s friend, is at the cross near Jesus. Mary is there. Where’s Peter? Where is the man who once walked on water with Jesus? Where is the only disciple who knew Jesus was the Son of the Living God? He’s nowhere to be found. Peter may have given up on Jesus but Jesus hasn’t given up on him, or you.
Three days later, we read that a few ladies went early to the tomb where Jesus was placed. They found the stone rolled away. As they entered, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and ... Peter.”
This angel has a message for these women, actually the entire world and ... Peter. Get up, Peter. Stop weeping. God’s not through with you. Jesus was dead. He is alive. It’s a new day Peter.
Peter rose up to become one of the greatest witnesses and preachers the world has ever known. Yes, he was down but didn’t stay there. Neither should you. You can’t change your yesterdays but today is Easter. I wonder if an angel somewhere isn’t saying this day, “Go, tell His disciples and _____,” (fill in your name) Jesus is risen! He hasn’t forgotten you!” It’s time for you to rise up!