Can you relate to Simon Peter’s desire to stand beside Jesus, steadfast and true? How about Peter’s adamant denial of Jesus. Oh, how I have been both during my lifetime. St. Peter teaches us a great deal about Christ's appeal and compassion; as well as God's unfailing mercy.
As St. Paul would say, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. As we grow in our own discipleship of Jesus Christ, we also hope to grow in our fidelity to Him and His messages. This is easy when things are going well or in those moments when we are ‘alone’ with Jesus – either in our thoughts, prayers or reading. In those times of quiet devotion it is easy to be confident that given the circumstance, we’d stand firm, with no doubt in our mind. Yes, while we want to be the steadfast and true friend, we probably better identify with Peter during the time that was not so.
How fickle the heart can be as is powerfully illustrated in the events of the first Holy Week. On Sunday, the people are laying down palms to ‘pave’ the way for Jesus in Jerusalem. They are heralding him as a King, completely ready to receive all His teachings, accept Him into their lives, and become a follower. By Friday, they are condemning Him to death – accusing Him of being a criminal, even though He has committed no crime. In essence, they, like Peter, are denying that Jesus is or has ever been part of their life. It is clear the mob mentality infiltrates the mindset of the onlookers and they cease to make decisions based on what they know and have seen, but instead fall victim to popular opinion. How very relevant this is today.
We enter into this relationship with Jesus, and are often given some great consolation of faith which leads us to praise Jesus for entering into our lives. Yet, within a short time, we start to notice the world around us is not as welcoming, and in fact, we are in danger of being ridiculed or abandoned because of our faith in Jesus.
Our crime is that we are seeking to live a counter-cultural life modeled after this great, often misunderstood God-man. We are accused of being close minded, biased, prejudice, judgmental, and self-righteous all in the name of wanting to be a disciple of Jesus; who we believe to be the Son of God - the model of how a human can possess a life of justice and holiness. Like Peter, our fear of being crucified along with Jesus causes us to deny Him, not just once, but again and again.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”
How many times will we deny Jesus? The number is probably too numerous to be properly calculated. This world does not make following Christ any easier than Peter found it on that night Jesus was being persecuted. It takes real courage to proclaim your desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, to declare your friendship (even your love) and to stand with Him in faith. Thankfully Peter’s lesson is not just about sinning and going awry, it is about God’s love, mercy and work of redemption through his Son, Jesus.
All Rights Reserved Allison Gingras, 2014