June 7, 2021
Lauri Jo Cranford
Three Rivers District
Mark 14:26-3126 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’[a]
28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”
30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice[b] you yourself will disown me three times.”
31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
These words spoken by Peter resonate strongly in my soul - “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” Peter spoke out of conviction and passion and love for Jesus with such beauty and strength. It is a powerful moment.
And while those words are powerful and beautiful, and I imagine Jesus wanted to believe them, he tells Peter even in his conviction and faith, he will deny Jesus.
Few if any of us want to think that even at our weakest moment of faith we would deny Jesus. We want so badly to hold on to the trust that we, who are followers of Jesus, would claim and defend Him no matter what. We want to believe that when faced with doubts or questions or even accusations from another WE would be the ones who would stand firm in our faith and offer our very lives because of our love for Jesus. We want to believe we are the Peter who makes this powerful proclamation.
And yet...I find that there are times that I am more like Peter standing by the fire, trying to get warm when recognized by a bystander. In a moment of confusion, fear, and grief, when Peter does not know what will happen to Jesus, he denies Him. I don’t doubt that Peter still believed in and loved Jesus. I think he was simply scared of what might happen to him. And isn’t that something we all struggle with at times? We proudly proclaim our faith and trust in Jesus when surrounded by our brothers and sisters in worship. We wear clothing or jewelry that states that we are followers of Christ. We pray for one another, and we share those prayers on social media and in other public spaces.
There are times when our voices are silent. Maybe a racial slur or a harassing comment is stated in our presence, and we choose to stay silent. Maybe we hear a joke that belittles another, and we awkwardly laugh rather than say something that might offend another. Maybe we see an injustice toward another and choose to turn and walk away rather than intervene.
I’ve read this scripture many times and want so badly to believe that I can be like Peter, standing strong in my conviction, willing to die alongside Jesus because I love and trust Him so. The reality is that I am like Peter, and while my passion and conviction are strong, I am also able to hide my faith and walk away and deny Christ.
Peter weeps after realizing his denials of Jesus. I weep, too, at the times I could have spoken up on behalf of others or on behalf of faith. Peter didn’t stay weeping, though. He used his experience to shape him into a stronger person of faith. May it do the same for me and for all of us who find that we are more like Peter than we like.
Jesus, we do love you and follow you. Help us to know how to speak up and to be voices of faith and hope. Help us to know when to speak up for others. Help us to know when to act on behalf of others. And Lord, help us most of all to speak up and follow you. Fill us with your strength and courage and especially with your love for all Your children. Amen.