Luke 22:62 – And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
The occasion of Peter’s bitter weeping was his third denial of the Lord Jesus Christ the night of his betrayal. Peter’s weeping was made bitter because of two things we are told in verse sixty-one.
“The Lord turned, and looked upon Peter.” By the time the third denial was slipping off the end of Peter’s tongue Jesus was standing in the courtyard and heard Peter’s cursing, swearing, and denying. I am inclined to think that Peter and Jesus made eye contact. No words needed to be spoken. They both knew. It was a moment of revelation for Peter about Peter.
Verse sixty-one also tells us that “Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” Peter had probably thought about those words at least a couple of times already that night; his two previous denials. He no doubt, after each of the previous failures, remembered the words and embraced a new resolve that only evaporated under the blistering threat of what it might mean should he claim to know him.
Peter in his denial betrayed. Judas betrayed him with a kiss, Peter with a curse. Judas betrayed him into the hands of sinners. Peter betrayed him while in the hands of sinners. Of course these two men are as different as night and day. This is revealed in how they addressed their betrayals. Judas went out and hung himself; Peter went out and wept bitterly.
All sin is a betrayal of Christ. In all sin there is a sense in which we are saying “I do not know the man”. We condemn Judas and deservingly. We chastise Peter and consider it appropriate that he would go out and weep bitterly, but do we never feel compelled to weep bitterly over our own sins, our own betrayals. Do we never deny in our own way and realize the Lord is looking? Do we never betray in our own way and never remember the word of the Lord? Do we never weep bitterly over our sin, denials, and betrayal?
This may be too much to ask of a Christianity that has been weaned on feeling good about itself. I don’t think anyone could have consoled Peter that early morning by encouraging him to think about who he was in Christ. Such words would have only intensified his agony. It was exactly because of who he was in Christ that he was so overwhelmed with grief because of what he had done to Christ.
When is the last time we wept bitterly over our sin?