By all reckoning, it should have been the end of Peter’s story.
Like Judas, he might have hanged himself. Or turned recluse. Or lurched in his bitterness towards Stockholm Syndrome, throwing in his lot with Jesus’ taunters.
And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61–62 ESV)
A text familiar with tears and their descriptors takes special care to characterize Peter’s particular kind of weeping. ‘He went out and wept bitterly.’
Nothing is left for Peter, even if Jesus‘ life might stagger on for a few more hours before the killing is over.
Indeed Luke’s narrative never pauses to allow a polite space for Peter’s grief. Hurrying on from Jesus’ and Peter’s fateful locking of glances, he reports:
Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’ And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him. (Luke 22:63–65 ESV)
But Peter is ended.
His credibility gone, his soul crushed by his own unforeseen betrayal of this man for whom he had vowed to die, what can possibly become of this once audacious follower of Jesus, whom the text now with increasing frequency calls simply ‘the Lord’?
Yet, stunningly, Peter is not over.
The events unfolding before eyes that have perhaps read them too quickly, too often, would produce more than one resurrection from the dead. Peter, the New Testament will lead us to understand, had a future, indeed a complex, contentious, and fruitful one.
Nor does the resurrection count end at just two.
For we are all Peter ended, capable of the unthinkable and often its very perpetrators, shattered by our own weak hand.
Yet we are all potentially Peter remade, remembering our nadir not as our end, but rather our beginning.