Forgiveness Leads to Forgiving
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
Matthew 6:12, KJV
*The night chilled Peter to the bone. The fire brought no relief as he held his hands near the flame. His shivering body emanated the cold, dark fear in his heart. How can this be happening?
He tucked his cloak over his head as he scrutinized the crowd around him and continued observing the mockery of a trial.
“Aren’t you one of his followers?” The young woman pulled her shawl tighter around her shoulders.
“Me? I don’t know what you’re talking about woman,” answered Peter as he moved away from the fire further into the darkness. But darkness couldn’t hide him.
“You are one of his followers. I saw you with him,” another damsel accused.
Peter’s hood fell around his shoulders as he jerked to face her. “I am not,” he answered, along with a few other words the Bible doesn’t record. He stomped back toward the fire. I might as well stay warm.
For about an hour no one bothered Peter. All eyes and ears were directed toward Jesus’ trial—until a group of men circled around the warming fire.
“You,” cried one of the high priest’s servants as he pointed at Peter. “You are one of that man’s followers.”
Peter balled his fists and between gritted teeth declared, “No, I am not.”
The servant smiled. “But you are. You talk like a Galilean. You were with him when he was arrested.”
Peter got in the man’s face. “You don’t know what you’re talking about …”
In the distance a rooster crowed its wake-up call. Peter spun in the direction of the sound at the same time Jesus turned toward Peter. Their eyes met—and Peter remembered. The Bible says,
“And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”
Luke 22: 62, KJV
Peter loved Jesus. Personally, I think he would have rather had his tongue ripped out than to do what he did. After being restored to a right relationship with the Lord following the resurrection, Peter spent his life feeding the Lord’s sheep. Did he walk perfectly before the Lord? No. There was a time Paul confronted Peter’s wrong attitude toward Gentile Christians. Here another lesson Jesus’ taught his disciples may have come into Peter’s mind.
When Jesus wanted to wash Peter’s feet—
“Peter said to Him, ‘Never shall you wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’
Simon Peter said to Him, ‘ Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.’
Jesus said to him, ‘He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean …’” John 13:8-10a; NASB
We are forgiven unto salvation when we believe Jesus’ death on the cross paid our debt of sin in full. “For the wages of sin is death …” but our death could not pay the debt. It could only fulfill the penalty. Our death could not make us righteous. Only Jesus could do that. When we are saved, we are baptized in Christ—made completely clean. We have been bathed in the righteousness of Christ. But we still walk in a world where our feet get dusted with its sin. We need a little cleansing to keep nothing between us and the joy of fellowship with the Lord.
Our Prayer for Daily Cleansing:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way …
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Thy compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me thoroughly from my sin …
Also, keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.”
Psalm 139:23,24; 51:1,2;19:13; NASB
And help us to—be kind to one another, tender-hearted,
forgiving each other,
just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:32; NASB
*Adapted from the four gospel accounts of Peter’s denial