“Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.” (John 18:27, ESV)
I love Peter! He comes across as such a larger than life character in the gospels. He’s always on the precipice of a gigantic success (“Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”” Matthew 16:16, ESV), or a dismal, ghastly failure. As we take up the story of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, we find Peter at the nadir of his life with Christ.
John writes with a succinct pen here, as if it is an episode, neither he [who was probably present to witness it], nor Peter, care to recall. “Peter again denied it.”
Again. In the context such an appalling word. It has happened before, this denial. This is Peter’s third denial, the final one, the one after which Jesus had said just a few hours before, a rooster would crow (John 13.38). John writes: “At once, a rooster crowed.” Luke adds the detail that Jesus turned and looked at Peter (Luke 22.61). Luke also adds, unsurprisingly, that Peter went out and wept bitterly.
It is undoubtedly the worst moment of Peter’s life.
The gospel being the gospel and grace being grace, it is the worst moment of Peter’s life, but it is not the end of his life. The one who denied Christ three times will be one of the first witnesses to the resurrection and one of the pillars of the New Testament church. He will preach the gospel far and wide and be martyred–tradition says–by Nero. He will be crucified upside down at his own request, because he does not think he is worthy to die like Jesus did.
For Peter, and for you, dear reader, “again” is not the end; again is never the last word. Grace is the last word. Grace covered Peter’s “again,” and grace can cover yours too.