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 rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. Matthew 26:69-75
Matthew 26 is a story of betrayals. The chief priests and elders plotted to arrest Jesus (v. 3-4). The poor woman spread perfume on Jesus body and the disciples were indignant about her act (v. 8). Judas agreed with the chief priests to betray Jesus for thirty silver coins (v. 15). Judas’ responded at the last supper “Surely, not I Rabbi” when confronted by Jesus (v. 26). The disciples fell asleep when Jesus had asked them to pray with him for one hour (v. 40). All the disciples deserted Jesus and fled after his arrest from Judas betrayal (v. 56). The Sanhedrin accused Jesus of blasphemy because Jesus remained silent when asked to prophecy (v. 62). And finally, Peter emphatically shared, “I don’t know the man!” three times (v.74).
In this Lenten season, this verse helped me reflect personally how our (my) sinful nature can so easily surface by displaying Peter’s attitude of “no, not me.” A few examples come to mind. Have we been nudged by our triune God to fulfill the great commission and skirted the opportunity because we said inside, “no, not me Lord, I can’t witness on your behalf.” Or, have I been challenged by the Genesis scripture to subdue the earth and responded by latent creativity, passivity, or displacing dominion over the earth by saying it is my neighbor’s responsibility versus being my calling.”
As we journey through Lent, in preparation for the Easter celebration of the risen Christ and communion, should we ask ourselves for Jesus’ help in cleansing us from the betrayals described above? Simply stated, should we prayerfully approach today by asking God to guide us in appropriate plotting, dignified actions, claiming him as ‘our Lord’ in all things, fervency during prayer time, strengthening of a friendship, help in remaining silent when falsely accused and responding without hesitation of claiming Jesus Christ as Lord instead of saying “I don’t know the man.”
I’m convinced we must first ask for help and acknowledge Jesus’ sacrifice in verse 28, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” We can only “know the man better” and behold Christ-like characteristics when we first acknowledge it is only by his blood that we are able to serve him without betrayal.
Prayer: Lord, we are so much like Peter. When confronted, we will consistently fall short with our human frailties and excuses. Help us to acknowledge it is only by your cleansing blood that we can live a sanctified life. Call us in this Lenten season to draw closer to you. Amen.