“And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another[a] disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.” John 18:15-18
This is Holy Week and so many things come flooding to my mind. I asked God what is it He wanted me to focus on today. It came quickly Peter’s denial. I am so like Peter. I throw words out without even thinking sometimes. I am the one, like Peter, who would have jumped out of the boat without thinking about what all could or would happen. So when Peter denies God I have to wonder about myself.
We read in John and the other Gospels about Peter and his denying Jesus three times. Take the time to read the story once again. It will get to you; it did me once again. I look at Peter and see myself.
Peter denied Jesus three times. I have denied Jesus so many more times than that I am afraid. See in my eyes I deny Christ every time I have a chance to share God’s grace and love with someone and I turn away. When I have the opportunity to offer Christ to someone and I don’t I think I am denying Christ the opportunity to find the lost sheep and dwell among him or her.
I deny Christ every time I am offered a chance to help someone in need. I am stingy when it comes to my things and often that includes money. So when Christ calls me to help someone who is in need I often look the other way and refuse to help. I am denying Christ the chance to work through me.
I deny Christ every time I pass a homeless person and the compassion leaves me. I look and think he/she could do better they just don’t try. Maybe if I offered to help them try, maybe if I would walk alongside them and encourage them to keep trying just maybe there would be one homeless person. I deny Christ the opportunity to be a servant through me.
I often deny Christ when I don’t extend my love to those who are different. I look at them with judgment in my eyes and in my heart instead of trying to understand where they have come from or why they are different. Christ loves all people in all walks of life. They can’t know that love if I deny loving them the way Christ wants me too.
Finally, I deny Christ every time I condemn a man or woman who heads to jail for doing some horrific or even minor crime against another. Do I feel compassion for the one that has messed up? No, I have not and the thing of it is I am a sinner as much as he/she is because we all know sin is sin; there is no degree of sin.
There are so many other areas in my life where Christ could say, “Why, yes you did deny me then also.” But the greatest thing about Christ is He looks past our denying Him. Just like He did with Peter He looks upon us with compassion and forgives us and loves us in spite of all we do.
Christ knows we live in a fallen world. Christ knows our hearts. Christ reaches out to us when we think we don’t deserve it. I just bet Peter became more aware of his actions and his words after denying Christ three times. Maybe by denying Christ and feeling remorse Peter became a better person.
I know when I have denied Christ and walked away often times guilt sets in. I have learned about compassion as I deal with those who are struggling in life. I have more pity on the person who goes to prison because of a relationship I have with one in prison. I hope I have learned to give sacrificially when God has called me to do so. He has taught me many times over things are just things and money, well when you give money away to help others it always returns in some form. Because He has first loved me it is my duty to love others not because I can, but because Christ can love through me.
I am not perfect nor will I ever be, but maybe Peter denying Christ has reminded me I have denied Christ just like Him. But, just like Peter Christ has forgiven me and loved me and shown compassion toward me when I didn’t deserve it.
When is the last time you have denied Christ? We have all done it. The important thing is not to get hung up on denying Christ. Christ has forgiven you and has compassion for you. He loves you and wants you to know its okay. He’s saying to you today, “Go and sin no more.”
Dear God, Holy Week is so hard for us Christians as we listen and read about your last week here with us. Peter is an example of how I often live my life. I say things I shouldn’t, I step out hurriedly not thinking about what I am doing or the consequences. I just want to be with you. Forgive me for those times I have denied you, denied the chance for you to find a lost one, denied the chance for you to love through me and denied the compassion you have shown me. Let me feel the love, compassion and the forgiveness as I move beyond the guilty stage. Let me become a better person; let me grow deeper into you and your love. Speak to me this week and may I focus on the things you want to teach me. Thank you for dying on the cross for a sinner such as I. Amen