Lent 2023 Day 6: Tue 28 Feb
Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him. ‘You also were with Jesus of Galilee,’ she said. But he denied it before them all. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said.
Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant-girl saw him and said to the people there, ‘This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ He denied it again, with an oath: ‘I don’t know the man!’
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, ‘Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.’ Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know the man!’
Immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: ‘Before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Have you been in that situation? You’re minding your own business, and someone comes up and asks you about your beliefs. You’re caught off-guard. But the real problem is that you’re totally unprepared for talking about your faith. Perhaps you see it as a private concern. That’s never how Jesus saw it. He might expect us to find quiet places for personal prayer, but the rest of our Christian lives is open to public enquiry and scrutiny.
Peter was hoping to watch the unfolding scene from a distance, to blend in and not be noticed. He was already feeling very sore and frightened. Jesus had been taken away in a surprise attack, and Peter did not offer his own wrists to those arresting Jesus. If you’re offering to die with Jesus, the least you can do is to accept arrest with him.
So someone asks you about faith. Do you look for a quick answer, and hope they’ll go away? Why not be honest! It was Peter himself, in his first letter, who reminds us that we should “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”. We’ll see that passage again later on.
Peter was scared of a servant-girl, a youngster, an insignificant person who recognised his face. Was she likely to have shopped Peter? Possibly not, but Peter had lied, and now the lie was feasting on him. This was a low point for Peter.
Bitter, bitter tears flow.
How many times have you heard crowing?
How do you deal with your bitter tears?
How can you become a more effective witness to Christ Jesus?
Father God, you see me hiding in shadows and you kindly beckon me out. You are gracious and merciful, and you wipe away my bitter tears and forgive my denials and disowning when I bring them to you in repentance. In Jesus you lift me up and restore me. Thank you, Father. Amen