"Peter then denied again; and immediately the rooster crowed" (John 18:27)

That same Peter preached...

"But you denied the Holy One and the Just...and killed the Prince of life..." (Acts 3:14)

Think those two verses through. Peter had just denied ever knowing Jesus, even swore that he didn't know Him and then in a sermon two months later lambasted the Sanhedrin and Jerusalemites for doing the same. "But you denied the Holy One!" Uh, Peter, you too denied the Holy One. Have you forgotten?

Earlier, after Peter denied Jesus a rooster gave the altar call that drew the backslidden preacher home. I can't interpret cock-a-doodle-doo language but I think the rooster was crowing out, "Chicken!" Yes, Peter chickened out and was confronted by a rooster, chicken to chicken. "Peter went out and wept bitterly" (Luke 23:62). The repentance was genuine, the restoration nothing short of amazing. Peter denied Jesus but Jesus never denied Peter. He won't deny us in our failures either.

But here's the point, Peter was the master of self-forgiveness. Not even two months had passed when he was preaching against the very sin he had committed. Fact is, the past is the past. "Their sins, and their iniquities I will remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17). What right have we to remember what God has vowed to forget? Since Peter's record was cleared in heaven he took it upon himself to count it cleared on earth. Others grovel, do penance, rehearse their mistakes, kick and flagellate themselves over their pasts.

They walk with the head bowed, despicable worms, and we add to their torment whispering and reminding, "He's the one that denied Jesus". But who says a forgiven man has to cough up his pound of flesh? Religion would never have allowed David to be king after the Bathsheba incident. True, he paid dearly for his indiscretions but that is never enough for the Pharisees, they want him placed on twenty years probation and would have plastered his name on an internet sex offender's registry.

Don't misquote me. I didn't say we can forgive ourselves so far as clearing our account with God. He being the offended party is the only One that can grant ablution. The Bible always speaks of reconciliation as being "between God and man", never man and God, because we were the criminals. Too many people nonchalantly forgive themselves without taking the issue to the courtroom of heaven first and that is wrong.

But once granted forgiveness we do not have to spend the next ten years in remorse. Peter got on with life. Others could bring up his betrayal if they wanted to but he wasn't going to acknowledge it any more. The denier-disciple could rebuke others that denied Jesus with the same authority as any of the other disciples because he had repented with tears. Plus, it doesn't hurt to see the empty tomb and get a personal visit from the risen Lord.

You may call that hypocrisy. I understand if you do, but let me assure you, there will come a time that you too will need to put something behind you and when you do Peter will be your example of choice. I'm glad Jesus forgives. Sadly, many cannot forgive themselves. Would it help to read it in black and white? "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Don't take my word for it; take His.

Many thanks to Kris Jackson for allowing us to publish this!