Shame: Peter’s and Ours.

I don’t see Peter’s name in the narrative from just after his denial through the details of Jesus’ crucifixion. I don’t think he wanted to be seen. I doubt he wanted to be found. “Just leave me alone.”

The hours between Calvary and Sunday morning were three of the most difficult days and nights Jesus’ followers could endure. They were filled with one thing. Intense Grief. For Peter —and Judas— it included shame as well.

Shame is an acutely painful emotion, caused by the constant awareness that you have done something dishonorable, and no matter what you try, you just can’t seem to get it off your hands.

Thursday. Shame.

Thursday night. Shame . (I doubt Peter slept. I think Judas probably figured out how he was going to kill himself.)

All day Friday. Shame.

Friday night. More of the same.

Saturday. Intense shame. A silent sabbath.

Saturday night. Shame that mixed with sleep deprivation to make for fitful sleep. Maybe a little.



  • Shame sends a person into emotional exile. Into seclusion.
  • Shame sends a guy home from market by way of the back streets and allies.
  • Shame lays like a damp blanket over a person’s dreams and suffocates the last little bit of hope that remains.
  • Shame hangs your stomach upside down and dares you to touch it.
  • Shame steals an inch from your height and stoops your shoulders.
  • Shame siphons off your energy and makes you shuffle from here to there. The spring in your step is grounded until further notice.
  • Shame scrawls “-less” on post-it notes, slaps them up after things that used to characterize you. Hope-less. faith-less. worth-less. Then it sits across the room and forbids you to take them down; watches to be sure you don’t.
  • Shame steals your song and isn’t interested in hearing anyone else’s.
  • Shame is relentless. It follows you everywhere. It stares back at you from the bathroom mirror and points out your flaws. All of them.
  • Shame taunts you with thoughts of what was –or would have been– and is no more.
  • Shame calls you names – and rightfully so.
  • Shame tells you you’re not worth the time of day.



If you’ve ever been where Peter is, you know the overwhelming sense of helplessness that travels with shame. Everybody you know knows what you’ve done, and those who don’t have heard about it. You don’t want to show your face ever again – anywhere. It’s a silent pain that eats at you like emotional cancer, and nothing helps. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.


Thursday – Shame

Thursday night – Shame

All day Friday. Shame.

Friday night. Shame.

Saturday. A Shame-filled sabbath.

Saturday night. Shame.


Somewhere in there Peter may have heard that Judas killed himself and may have shrugged “I can see why”. His friend John made sure he stuck close to make sure Peter didn’t follow suit. Friends are that way. They look out for you when you’re at you’re lowest.

I can picture them arranging to go for a walk early Sunday morning, John’s idea. “C’mon. Let’s go for a walk.”

Peter agrees to go if it’s before people are up so they don’t see anyone, and John comes over before dawn. He says hello with a man-to-man hug and asks “How you doin’?” but doesn’t expect an answer. They walk in silence, Peter’s hands stuffed deep into his pockets. A figure approaches. A woman. It looks like she’s in a hurry.

“John, let’s turn down this way”.

But John recognizes her and says “Hold on a sec'”


“I said ‘hold ON a sec’ !” and he stops and waits for her.

I can picture Peter half-turning away and looking at the ground. It’s Mary Magdalene and she runs right up to them. Now what?! Just leave me alone.


In This Series:

6 Replies to “Shame: Peter’s and Ours.”

  1. Jonell

    Good writing here, Phil!

    It’s like the first act ends, we break for intermission and we have to return for the “rest of the story.” Even though we already know how the story ends, I like how you are writing this to let us know some of the feelings and attitudes they might have experienced at that time. I’ve always liked listening to Bible teachers who are able to put themselves in the shoes/sandles of Bible characters and bring them to life as true human beings with feelins and attitudes like you and me.

    Sunday’s comin’ and I can’t wait! I’m walking into Easter this year with a different perspective … thanks to you and your blog!

    Have a wonderful Resurrection Sunday!


  2. Phil

    Thanks Jonell – you too!

    Right now I’m trying to decide if I want to post “Peter’s Relief” sometime tomorrow in anticipation of Resurrection Sunday, or if I want to wait a day.

    Guess you’ll find out along with everyone else, won’t you? 😉

    Writing this series has been good for me. I hope readers slow down enough to let the emotion sink in.


  3. Joni Ruhs

    “Everybody you know knows what you’ve done, and those who don’t have heard about it.”
    Yick. I always hate working out an issue that has been obvious to everyone but me. I feel like such an idiot for not recognizing it earlier.
    Shame is hard to shake. I tend to feel like people won’t think I’m really repentant if I don’t feel bad for what I’ve done. Even after there has been confession and forgiveness. I’m learning how to step out a little and risk the freedom in Christ but its scary for me.

  4. rindy

    I love how you are bringing the Bible to life. For me in my Christian walk, realizing and truly knowing that this is real, the people are real, and I am a part of all of this. It is amazing. It gives strength when I see that “huge” people, like Peter, experienced some of the same feelings, like shame, that I do (and even more that Jesus himself experienced many of the same emotions).

    Thank you for pushing us a little farther down the road on this journey…

  5. faithwalk

    Shame wraps it tentacles around a persons heart squeezing the life out of it, and whispers tormenting thoughts that leave them crippled. Like regret, shame robs us of our joy, but it was never God’s intent for us to live under it’s shadow.

    One of my greatest blessings was when I realized I could do nothing outside of Jesus grace enabling me. And by that grace I am learning that when I don’t get something right, to quickly fall at Jesus feet in repentance, accept His forgiveness, imeasurable love and grace, then get back up and keep pressing in to His love, and move forward in the Kingdom.

    Being in ministry offers lots of opportunites for humility, and keeps me in desperation for more and more of Christ Jesus life and His love in my heart, so I can be a blessing to others. He is so faithful and we are so blessed to know and be known of Him!

    Great posts here Phil, may the Lord bless you!


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