The bench is a place to rest, a place to talk, and a place to make decisions. It also has additional significance for me as someone who laid down his gavel after serving as a Probate and Family Court judge in Boston for twenty-one years.
Peter’s Bench is named for St. Peter.
When Peter asks Jesus how many times we are to forgive others, Jesus tells him “Seven times seventy” denoting limitless forgiveness.
Later, on the night before his death, Jesus tells Peter, “Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter replies “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.”
Yet, he does.
“Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a maid came up to him, and said, ‘You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’ But he denied it before them all, saying, ‘I do not know what you mean.’ And when he went out to the porch, another maid saw him, and she said to the bystanders, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ And again he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man.’ After a little while, the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know the man.’ And immediately the cock crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, ‘Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.”
What a gift Peter is given when Jesus appears and forgives his cowardice. Peter would later accept persecution and crucifixion rather than deny Christ again.
Could there be a better choice than Peter to hold the keys to heaven? Who would better understand weakness, failure and forgiveness?