I Cannot Watch Them

There’s a beautiful compilation of music that tells the story of the Saviour’s final days in His mortal journey. It’s called Lamb of God, composed by Rob Gardner. It’s written with reverence to the story of Christ’s atonement and final teaching, and it’s told from the perspective of Peter and other apostles. The role of Christ is played by a cello. Aside from the music itself being transcendent, the words of the songs and stories are as close to the scriptures as possible and as a result- well, the entire feeling of it is scripture to me. Gardner said of writing this collection,
“It was most interesting to me to see what their decisions, their actions and their interactions with Him teach us about the Savior Himself. And it was important to me that Hope shine through even the darkest moments.”
My favourite track is a song called “I Cannot Watch Them.” Peter, who we believe was given all the keys of the Priesthood and had the charge to lead the church after Christ’s passing, sings this song in the wake of denying the Saviour. This moment in scripture is troubling to many Christians. How could Christ’s closest friend deny Him?
I really love listening to Peter’s internal dialogue and thinking about parts of the scriptures from living perspective. As Peter laments, I feel how close his relationship with Christ was, and how personally he is taking the events around him. It’s a difficult thing to ponder: the devastating and cruel way that Christ was slain. There are many versions and depictions of these chaotic events in film- I’ve never been able to keep watching the screen when Jesus is pulled through crowds, stripped and whipped, nails driven through his palms.
Peter’s version of those minutes are equally impactful, but from a perspective that adds vision to the feeling of the typical disciple. As I listen to his words, I feel a connection to Peter. In some small way, I’ve also felt that shame of turning away from the saviour- that pang of regret, of wondering how I could lose sight of something so important, when I know so much- when I know who He is.
I appreciate this piece of music because this perspective is so crucially important to consider as we amble along the journey of discipleship.
Here are the lyrics from this piece:

[And Peter Remembered the words of Jesus and he went out and wept bitterly]

What have I done- denied him? What have I done?
So now I’m no different from the men who take thy bread and turn again– what have I done?
What have I done?
I hear their filthy tongues, their vicious scorn, the lies they spin with Satan’s yarn, I watch them spit and strike thy face; they mock thy name in foul disgrace, and when thou lookest for a friend, thou findest none for I have fled!
Oh God, what have I done?
As thou hast taken stripes for me, could I not take but one for thee?
I cannot watch them take my Lord. I can’t endure their cruel hands upon him while his own hands are tied with cord- those hands with power to raise the dead, command the storm, now bound instead.
I cannot hear them mock His name. I cannot bear their foul breath upon Him. I dare not look upon his face.
To see the very son of God, His brow so bruised and stained with blood, His eyes that shed my sorrows tears, and watch as all hope disappears.
I will not watch them crucify my Lord!
For I know this man! I know him! I know this man!
I cannot watch what He must bear; for surely He must carry all my burden? Forgive me lord that I’m not there but when thy eyes are closed in death these words will hang on my last breath: I know Him.
I think Peter embodies perfectly the true disciple of Christ- and maybe that’s why his mission (or destiny or fate or whatever you want to call it) was to deny Christ not even just once but three times: to remind us that to be a disciple is not to be perfect. I feel hope in Peter’s experience. I really see the gospel in action: that we fall and mess up not just occasionally, but a lot! And still, we are able to start again, and we are trusted to carry on, even to lead, teach, inspire others with our courage to keep trying. We’re so flawed, so full of shame and regret sometimes, but like Peter, so loving of the Saviour, learning slowly and understanding what He does for us in His atonement.
Finally Peter resolves to do better: to witness of Christ.

One comment

  1. it is simple of us to be hard on Peter for denying the Christ but as you so wonderfully acknowledged, we ALL have denied Him at some point through our disobedience to His commandments, etc. He loves us still.

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