Dispatches from the Holy Land: St. Peter in Gallicantu

Yesterday our little band of pilgrims began our first full day in the city of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. As part of our journey we travelled down the Mt.of Olives through the Garden of Gethsemane and then to the house of Caiphas--the High Priest. Caiphas' house is underneath a French church that is called St. Peter in Gallicantu which means St. Peter of the Crowing Cock--named for the moment when Peter realizes that he has indeed done exactly as he said he would never do and denied Jesus not once but three times.

If you recall Peter waited outside in the courtyard of the house while Jesus was being held and beaten on the inside. Below the house of Caiphas there is a pit that was filled in during the first century converting what had once been a ceremonial bath. The only way into the pit was through a hole that one had to be lowered into from above by ropes. Jesus was left in this pit no doubt probably manacled to a spot on the ceiling of the pit itself. Once the torches were removed it would have been absolutely pitch black inside of it.

I thought about Peter standing there with the crowd and the fear that he felt when people began to recognize him. It had been easy to declare that Jesus was the "Christ the Son of the Living God" at Caeserea Philippi when there was no threat to his life. It had been easy to declare to Jesus that he would rather die than betray him when he actually believed that there was going to be a struggle. I don't think that Peter was afraid of dying all that much---after all he raised his sword in the Garden of Gethsemane until Jesus told him to let it go. I do think that Peter thought that things were going to turn out a lot differently. He had not imagined that Jesus would have allowed himself to be captured. This was not the Messiah that he was expecting.

And so when the time came---he denied him.

I thought about this and about all of the times that I have questioned God and wondered what he was doing. I have had moments in my life when I asked God "Why? Why are you doing this? I have been a good person I have followed your Son I have defended you worshipped you given my life to you---and this is how you repay my trust?"

We've all been in those moments. And far too often we find ourselves turning our backs on the One we once declared was The Lord of our life. When it is difficult to follow Jesus and when our faith is called into question it's easy to falter. When the Jesus we get is not the Jesus we expect it's easy to falter.

But as we know Peter was redeemed and restored by Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee after Jesus rose from the dead. Peter was given a second chance to show just how much he loved and trusted that Jesus was exactly who he said he was.

In the book of Acts we find Peter arrested for preaching and teaching about Jesus. The Sanhedrin the very court that condemned Christ brings him to the house of the High Priest where they sit to determine his fate.

And Peter finds himself in the very same pit that Jesus was lowered into not a few weeks before.

He finds himself beaten and flogged for preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus.

And he rejoices that he was found worthy to suffer for the Name.

Peter gives these very rulers and religious leaders this wonderful statement: "We cannot help but preach and teach about what we have seen and heard."

Each of us has been given a second chance---and some of us more than a few of them---to live out our faith boldly and with great power. What will you do with yours?

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