“I tell you, Peter...” Luke 22:34
On a stroll through the woods in the eastern United States you might hear the call, “Peter, Peter, Peter” echoing from the forest canopy. If you are quiet and careful, you may be able to get a look at a Tufted Titmouse foraging in the trees. The Tufted Titmouse is a small, gray bird with a tidy crest and a prominent, dark eye. Their “Peter” calls are usually made in phrases of two, three or four, and are repeated continually as the birds hop from branch to branch. They sing most often in the summer months, but sometimes also are heard singing in the middle of winter.
“I tell you, Peter,” was the way Jesus addressed His disciple on the night of Jesus’ arrest. Jesus continued by informing Peter, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny three time that you know me” (Luke 22:34). The fact that Peter denied that he knew Jesus sometimes obscures the transformation that later took place in Peter’s life. That transformation began during the time Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection. John 21:15-18 records that Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you truly love me?” and that Peter answered in the affirmative three times. The Book of Acts records that after the resurrection of Jesus, Peter was arrested three times. On the first of those occasions, Peter and John appeared before the Jewish leaders and were commanded not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. Their response reflects a remarkable change from the man who had three times denied that he even knew Jesus: “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). Three was a significant number in the life of Peter. Three times he denied that he knew Jesus. Three times Jesus asked him, “Do you love me?” Three times he was placed under arrest. As you hear the Tufted Titmouse say, “Peter, Peter, Peter,” remember not only that Peter denied Jesus three times, but that he also stood before the authorities three times and acknowledged Jesus as Lord.