“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Monday, March 15, 2021. Original art by Susan Zendt (c) 2021.
And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. (Mark 14:66-72 )
This scene from the passion reminds me of Rizzo’s solo in the movie Grease, “There are worse things I could do.” People commit violent, abusive, heinous crimes every single day that seem a lot worse than Peter’s, “I don’t what or who you’re talking about” denial of Jesus. I also think of the opening narration of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, “In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit.” These dedicated detectives are not going after people like Peter.
But didn’t Jesus say, “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33)? I can’t find much wiggle room in that statement.
Is that it? Do you blow a while lifetime of faithfulness in one moment because you were afraid? Is that all it takes for Jesus to say, “I don’t know you, either”?
Jesus knew Peter was going to fail. Peter thought he was strong. Jesus knew he wasn’t. Peter had to learn his lesson the hard way. Yet after the resurrection, Jesus still knows Peter. He calls him by name. He says, “Simon, do you love me?” (John 21:15).
Jesus knows we’re going to fail, too. In so many ways we live like we don’t know Jesus or anything about him. And yet, “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Rather than disowning sinners like us, Jesus steps up to represent and defend them!
At the end of the, it’s not my faithfulness but his that makes the difference. We know his voice. He calls us by name (John 10:3). He knows us. And yes, we know him.
Heavenly Father, let the voice of my savior constantly remind me that I do know him. Amen.