Holy Tuesday: To Deny Christ

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

Text: Gospel of John 13:36-38

Even as Jesus said the words to Simon Peter there was little doubt that the Apostle didn’t believe them. He has among one of the first who had been chosen by the Christ, called to be a “Fisher of men”, he had been with him since the start. He had seen miracles that went beyond his base understanding. Even if it had only been for a moment, he had done the impossible, having walked on water with his Savior.

How then could he deny him? He knew who he was, and he loved him so dearly. In his mind Peter would have sooner died with the Messiah, he would have sooner died for the Messiah than turn his back on him. In that moment when he was to stand up and be counted he knew where he would be, at the side of Jesus. He would not slink away. Wherever he went, wherever the road took him Peter would follow willingly, and without question.

Yet we all know how the story ends. Just as Christ had said, before the rooster crowed Peter would deny him. With three opportunities to make it right he would stumble and falter in his steps.

It’s not hard to judge Peter for what would happen, or to say that we would have been different. After all, how often do we pray for signs from God, believing somehow that it will make us understand, or somehow make our faith easier? If we had only seen what Peter had seen, if we only learned at the feet of our Savior as he had, nothing could tear us away from him, not even the perils and the pain that he now faced. Gladly would we take up our cross beside him.

The truth though? The truth is we aren’t that much different than the Apostle even as Christ predicted his denial.

Even as we say “Lord, where you go I will follow” it seems unbelievable to us that we would deny Christ or that we would somehow abandon him in his time of need. Yet every time we put our own comfort before helping those in need, every time we shrug off our Christian responsibility to love our fellow man, every time we consider ourselves too busy to glorify God, and to show Him gratitude for all that he has done, each time we choose the acceptance of this world over the acceptance of Christ, we deny him just as surely as Peter himself had. Yet, unlike the Apostle we do so not because of fear for our lives, but because it’s easier, it’s simpler or we just can’t be bothered.

Blessedly for us, Christ does not count these denials against us even as he calls us back to him. In love and hope, grace and mercy, he draws us close to him, reminding us that his sacrifice did not hinge on our merit, or worthiness.

None of this means we should test the bounds of that love he has for us, or the mercy that he offers to us. Rather it should, in humility and gratitude, in a sincere understanding of just how unworthy we truly are, remind us of the debt owed to our Savior. It should inspire a deeper commitment to him as we make our stand for who he is and what he has called us to be.

For as inconceivable as it may be for us to outright deny Christ, we do just that more often than not dear brothers and sisters. We are all Peter, when it comes right down to it, quick to say we will always stay true and yet just as quick to falter when the pressure is on us. Take heart though, because, like Peter, it isn’t the end of our story, as we learn later in the Gospel, as Christ, despite our flaws and our stumbles, calls us once more to his side and to his work. Gracious and forgiving he comes with open arms to draw you back.

Thanks be to God for that.

Now may the peace of the Lord that transcends all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus even unto life everlasting. Amen

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