Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

One of them

“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for March 18, 2022. Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.  (Luke 22:55-62)

He did it. He did it just the way Jesus said he would. He denied knowing Jesus three times before the rooster crowed before the dawn.

Peter didn’t have a gun to his head or a sword at his throat. He wasn’t being interrogated under intense light. He wasn’t threatened in any way. Two simply made the comment, “You were with him.” Another said, “You are one of them.” These people had no authority. The mob already had the one they wanted. But Peter is quick to respond, “I don’t know him, I wasn’t with him, and I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Peter was confident. He had a sword and wasn’t afraid to use it in the garden when the mob came for Jesus (John 18:10). But he wasn’t prepared for this. He wasn’t prepared to be one of them. Those who came with Jesus from Galilee. Those who ran alongside Jesus when he rode into Jerusalem like a king. Those who called him Christ.

Later, Peter would encourage believers to not only honor Jesus as Christ the Lord but also be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

We’ve been conditioned to think that we are going to encounter resistance at every turn. That’s not always true. Just because someone asks, “You’re a Christian, right?” doesn’t mean they’re your enemy. They might be interested in hearing what you believe. Or they might want someone to pray with them. Or they might be looking for a friend themselves.

What if Peter had simply been silent? What if after the servant girl said, “This man was also with him,” someone else said, “Really? What was he like? Did he really heal people?” He could have shared some amazing memories from the past three years. It would have been about Jesus, not about him.

Perhaps that’s the secret. It’s not about us. It’s always about him.

Lord, I guess I’m one of “them.” What story do you think I should tell?

Posted in Lent devotions

Could be worse

“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.

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Posted in Lent devotions

By the fire

“Scenes from the passion” for Sunday, March 14, 2021. Photo by Tron Le on Unsplash.

And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. (Mark 14:54)

A crackling blaze in the hearth feels so good on a chilly night. Camping just doesn’t feel right without flames flickering in a fire ring. A stressful day melts away with a glass of wine as a few logs burn in your backyard fire pit.

As he shakes off the shock of Jesus’ arrest at Gethsemane, Peter waits just outside the high priest’s house, innocently warming his hands around the fire with the guards. What was going through his mind? Did he regret fleeing the scene just a few moments ago? Did he think he would have another chance to fight alongside his master? Was Peter still determined to die rather than turn his back on Jesus? Was he trying to hear what was going on inside?

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