As I pondered this scene, I recognized a common human pattern:
- a commitment to do or not to do something. Jesus told his disciples that all would fall away, in other words, the disciples were going to scatter and desert him when the "going got tough." Peter declared, "Even if all fall away, I will not" (Mark 14:29). Peter committed himself not to "turn his back" on Jesus.
- a failure to keep one's commitment. Peter denied knowing Jesus three times.
- an event that reminds you of your commitment. In this case, Peter heard the rooster crow, and this reminded Peter of how Jesus said he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed twice.
- brokenness and discouragement over one's failure. Peter broke down and wept over his failure.
This is a common human problem we all face. Each of us has certain issues that we try to defeat, but instead we get defeated. Maybe we decided to watch what we eat. Or, maybe we chose not to watch so much TV. Maybe we commit ourselves to treating our spouse or child with so much more respect. We could endlessly list the issues in which we humans struggle. Though we try to do what is right, we often fail.
How do we break this cycle? That is a tough question. Peter seemed to have conquered his fear that led to the three denials through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Check out Acts 2. There is no doubt we need the Holy Spirit to break our sinful habits. But often, we need to keep failing until we learn that we can't resolve our issues on our own, we need God. We need to keep failing until we are open enough to surrender the whole issue to God and allow him full control. Of course, that is hard to explain how to get there. There is no easy way to discern when you have relinquished your sinful habit to God, and are no longer going to try to stop with your own effort. There are no easy steps. Keep praying and asking God to help you.