Written by Marcus Mitchell
Scripture to Read: John 18:15-18, 25-27
Here is surely one of the lowest points in Peter’s life–his betrayal of Jesus, whom he knew to be the Messiah. Peter had been an integral part of Jesus’ ministry for the last few years and now everything was quickly falling apart. I’m sure there was a lot of fear. I’m sure he was fearful about what was going to happen to Jesus, but perhaps in this moment of weakness Peter was focused more on what would or could happen to himself. Only hours ago, in the safety of the company of Jesus and the other disciples Peter said he would lay down his life for Jesus (John 13:37). But now their group was fractured. The disciples dispersed and even the disciple Peter was at that time left outside in the high priest’s courtyard; now he was alone with strangers.
Have you ever felt safe in people not knowing who you were? Have you ever desired to keep silent in order to feel safe when you heard people talking harshly about a loved one? One time at work I struck up a conversation with a contractor. He started making racist comments about blacks. All I had to say was that I had a sister-in-law who was black and he quickly stopped and changed the subject. It was awkward, but I couldn’t let him go on like that. Once he knew that he was making comments that were disrespecting my family he knew he was disrespecting me as well.
Peter was trying to distance himself from Jesus in order to protect himself. I’m sure that later this was something Peter was embarrassed and ashamed about, especially since Jesus actually had predicted it hours earlier. But from our vantage point of knowing how the rest of the story unfolds, we know that Peter moves past this, matures and becomes a great leader in the early church. The sin of his betrayal was washed away with the rest of humanity’s sins when Jesus took it upon Himself on the cross.
In certain contexts and situations being a Christian isn’t easy. Particularly, it is getting more unsafe socially to identify ourselves as Christian and stand for Biblical truth. And when we consider all of the sinful things Christians have done in the past in the name of God, we certainly could have some understanding for those who are suspicious of us. But when we deny our identity as Christians, we are denying Him. It may take some patient conversations and vulnerability on our part to overcome the fear, anger and distrust that others feel about us. However, we are not alone. He doesn’t want us to do it in our own strength. Let us rely on Jesus to give us the courage and wisdom we need to continue on and share the love Christ has for them.