The breeze shifted slightly as cool air slid down the mountain to the east. He noticed the smell of the crackling olive wood as it lifted from the nearby fire pit. Keeping his eyes downcast, he listened with feigned disinterest to the animated conversation.
"They'll beat him and let him go, I tell you!"
"No, you're wrong this time, Yacov! I heard a few of them talking. They've had enough. They're going to ask the governor for the death penalty. And when they get through with him, they'll go after his associates if they have to."
Back and forth the argument volleyed. Occasionally one of the debaters would look a short distance away at the inquisition taking place.
Out of the shadows a young girl came up next to him. "Hey you! Aren't you one of his men? Didn't I see you in the Temple with him the last few days?"
His heart was pounding in his ears. He could feel the beads of perspiration forming at his temples. The words that came from his lips were like daggers to his own heart... "I...don't...know...him!" He awoke, thrashing and groaning.
Now he laid there, horrified at his failure. He recalled his vain boast, "Teacher, even if all the rest desert you, I will stay with you! Whatever it takes!"
"Simon, Simon... My friend, Satan has wanted you so that he might crush you like wheat under the threshing wheel. But I have prayed for you that you may persevere."
Finally, lying in the darkness, Peter's thoughts once again traveled to the lake. They neared the shore with empty nets that day just a few weeks ago. Jesus had been standing there, but they didn't recognize him in the pre-dawn shadows. He spoke and challenged them to let down their nets on the right side of the boat. Willing to try anything, they spread the nets one more time. They suddenly had so many fish that the nets were breaking! Then they knew it was the Lord.
Peter threw on his outer garment, jumped out of the boat and waded to shore. As he drew near the fire, he stopped. Jesus had used olive branches that had fallen from an old tree not far away. The smell was the same as that horrible night of his failure. He was filled with shame.
After breakfast, Jesus gazed at him. His eyes spoke understanding and compassion. Then, three times -- the same number as his denials -- the Teacher asked, "Simon, do you love me?"
"Yes, Lord, you know I love you!"
"Then care for my sheep."
To my readers: I was surprised at the joy I received from writing some of my own thoughts about events surrounding Holy Week this year. Some of you encouraged me to come back at the time of Christ's Ascension and continue the project. It is my prayer that these words will serve to enhance your appetite for more of the history from Scripture itself.