Why'd You Pick That One?

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by Rickie Miyake

I decided to get new personalized plates with a Bible verse to go along with the recent new car purchase.

"What verse?" Julie asked.  "Mark 14:72."

When she asked me what that was about, I told her that's the verse in which the rooster crowed and reminded Peter of what Jesus had said to him earlier - before the rooster crowed, he would deny Jesus three times. This caused Peter to weep bitterly.

A puzzled frown. "Why'd you pick that? Why didn't you pick something more inspirational or upbeat?"

From the first time I read it and every time thereafter that verse has had a profound effect on me. One of feeling terrible sadness for Peter. Sure, he was impulsive and wouldn't be the first choice from among the twelve apostles to be a diplomat. But he loved Jesus. His words of devotion to the Lord were not empty; he meant it when he said he would never forsake Him. "Even if I must die with You, I will never deny You!" he emphatically declared. He defended Jesus with a sword when the soldiers came to take Him captive in the final hours.

But when push came to shove, when bystanders began associating Peter with Jesus, he cursed and swore. "I do not know this man you are talking about!"

Then the rooster crowed. The account in Luke says when this happened, Jesus turned and looked at Peter. What kind of look was it? An angry look? An 'I told you so' look? Or, being that the other disciples had taken flight, Et tu Brutus?

I believe it was a look of sorrow and compassion for Peter because Jesus knew what he was going through. He'd already told Peter this would happen. No look or words could have made Peter feel any better because he was devastated by his own words he had blurted out, despite having every good intent never to betray his Lord and master. The One Peter had correctly perceived to be the Christ.

Every time I read this I see myself in Peter. The apostle Paul wrote, "For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate." (Romans 7:15) How many times have I had the best of intentions? How many times have I said I am going to do this good thing but wind up doing that bad thing?

I definitely didn't choose a smiley Bible verse, did I? Everyone I've told so far had the same reaction as Julie - "Gee, that's kind of a downer, huh?" Yes, but...

Let's say I instead chose a sunny side up verse for the plate. I imagine if a curious person asked me to explain the it, a believer would say, "Amen, brother!" A non-believer would tell me to have a nice day. But to tell them what Mark 14:72 says might provoke further discussion, same as why everyone so far has asked what inspired me to choose that particular verse from the universe of verses.

The important part is the ending. Peter did betray Jesus that fateful night but the Lord didn't strike back in anger or condemn him. In fact, He said nothing. He didn't need to say anything because Peter's heart was broken over what he had done and he probably thought that as sorry as he was, there was nothing he could do to right the wrong.

Jesus gave Peter another chance, however. When He returned after being resurrected, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Three times he had denied Jesus but now three times he expressed his true heart to Him, feeling really hurt because of being asked not one, two, but three times the same question, with the same answer for all three. Didn't Jesus believe him the first two times? I'm sure Jesus did, but this was for Peter's edification, not His.

Imagine Peter's great joy when he found out Jesus was alive after having been crucified. And despite his hurt from being asked three times if he loved Him, imagine his joy and relief from healing their relationship!

Jesus came to earth to bring healing to an imperfect people who love a perfect God. Despite our best efforts at pleasing God, our imperfect selves wind up doing the things we do not wish to do. But thanks be to Jesus who took all of these things and bore them on the cross for our sake that we might have forgiveness and another chance. You, me, Peter, and everyone who asks in His name.

That's the story of why I chose Mark 14:72 for my new plates, and I'm sticking to it. It has a sunny ending.