I denied Jesus yesterday.
I didn’t, like, stand up in public with a microphone and say, “Jesus isn’t real,” or anything like that. I didn’t post about my denial on Facebook, ‘cause we all know it’s not official until it’s FB official. Am I right?
But I denied him.
Right to his face.
I told him that I regretted following him, that my life was a lot easier before I followed him, that things made way more sense and there was way less pain before he found me and I heard his call and followed him. I told him, using not nice words, that my whole life for the last 7 years or so had been pain on top of pain. Strangely enough, he didn’t strike me dead.
Pain makes us do some weird things, I’m learning. I’ve heard it said that we see our true character come out during hard times. I don’t know if I agree with that completely ‘cause pain can make you do things that you ordinarily may not ever do. Fear can do that also.
The Apostle Peter, before he was known as the Apostle Peter, knew this to be true also. Mark’s gospel records it for us this way,
“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)
Before we go all judgmental on our brother Peter, let’s put ourselves in his position for a second. Everything he had come to believe in was disintegrating right before his eyes. The one he had proclaimed as Lord and Christ, the Son of God, was being beaten and mocked before his very eyes. His very identity was being beaten to death. His whole world was coming apart in front of his eyes and he was powerless to stop it.
Don’t be too hard on Peter. He was afraid. He was in pain.
What would you do?
What would you do if all you had come to believe was blown apart in front of your face, if the one you said was God and Lord and Christ seemed powerless to stop what was happening, if your very identity had been taken from you and stripped naked and beaten before your eyes, if your whole world was coming apart and you were powerless to stop it?
What would you do?
I’ll tell you what I’ve done recently, what I did yesterday. I denied Jesus. Just like Peter, I turned my back on him. Oh I didn’t deny him in front of people. Only he could hear me say what I said to him. Only he heard me say, “I wish I’d never followed you.”
And then this morning I was walking my daughter to school. She has yelled at her sister. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: “You yelled at your sister this morning. I know you did that because you’ve heard me yell at you. I’m sorry that I yelled at you and now you think that’s okay. Don’t be like me. It’s not okay to yell. We need to be kind to each other, like Jesus. I need you to help me. Will you remind me to be kind?”
Her: “I forgive you, Daddy. I’ll help you.”
And I began to cry.
In that moment, my daughter showed me the love of my Saviour. She forgave me and said she would help me. That’s what Jesus does when we repent. That’s what Jesus does when we bring our brokenness to him and say ugly things to him and deny him. He says, “I forgive you. I’ll help you.”
Your pain is real. Your fear is real.
So is mine.
But we have a loving Saviour and Friend, who is Jesus Christ our Lord, who forgives us just like he did Peter. I hope this encourages you today, friend, wherever you are and whatever you are going through. Even when we turn our backs on Jesus, he doesn’t turn his back on us. He will forgive you. He will help you.
That’s called grace.
Soli Deo Gloria!