A Good Friday Meditation–Denial

March 29, 2013 at 12:07 pm Leave a comment

 

Last evening at our sister church, Reformation Lutheran, in Kitchener, we heard again the reading from the book of Matthew in Scriptures when Peter first objects to Jesus’ news about his upcoming trials, only to be followed by Peter’s denials. Well, not only Peter’s denials, but that of the other disciples too.

It’s just that faithful Peter, at Jesus’ side, wanted to spare his friend the trouble he was about to go through. Peter wanted to be there, or at least he thought he did,  until he and the other disciples came face-to-face with the trouble—the Roman army and the chief priests, not to mention all the people who spoke against Jesus at the mock trial.

Faithful Peter was like us, because he was human. In his fear at the arrest of Jesus and the trial afterwards, his courage failed him. He denied three times: being a Galilean, being with Jesus and in the company of men who followed Jesus. And when the rooster crowed after that third denial, Peter realized what he had done and went out and cried bitterly.

We shouldn’t be too hard on Peter. He represented a whole lot of us who forget Jesus when it’s easier to do so. People like you and me.

The pastor who gave the sermon, in our joint worship of three congregations, spoke of times when it’s just easier to tuck our Christianity into our pockets, sight unseen, to avoid the sneers of those who would mock us. To stand alone in a group and say, “That’s not right!” It’s just hard to do in the company of friends and coworkers, unless we only keep company with those who think  and believe like we do. It’s probably not going to happen.

Sometimes actions catch us by surprise, like swearing in God’s name and we’re speechless. I remember a particular time that I determined that the next time someone did that, I would say, “Please don’t do that,” which I followed up on, and it wasn’t long after that I had occasion to put my resolve to the test.

I was chatting with a woman of Asian descent when the surprising words came out. I wondered if she said it because others used those words and she didn’t understand that the words she was using might have significance to others, but still it didn’t feel right. I pulled out my courage and said, “Please don’t swear in that name.”  I told her that I worship Jesus and it’s not appropriate to swear in his name. She was surprised and stopped. There was no harassment, but also no comment, and while I’d missed other opportunities, I also felt better for standing up to the situation and doing so in a respectful way.

Peter is just like us after all, sad but true, yet we have the consolation that no matter how many times we deny or forget or neglect, we are forgiven when we ask for it. Jesus bore our sins in that horrid death on the Roman cross and we can be forever grateful for his sacrifice on our behalf. This Good Friday we reflect on that sacrifice and try again to do better.

 

 

 

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