So they arrested him and led him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there. A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, “This man was one of Jesus’ followers!”
But Peter denied it. “Woman,” he said, “I don’t even know him!”Luke 22:54-57
This morning, another Sunday as we journey together on our way to Holy Week (April 10-17), I am thinking about a couple ideas I presented in my Lenten devotional book, Reaching Toward Easter. They are the readings for days 33 and 34.
Essentially, I suggest that rather than opposing Jesus because he did not understand his message, the chief Priest Caiaphas wanted to get rid of Jesus exactly because he did. Then, there is Peter and his public denial, when he insisted, “I do not know the man!”
Maybe Peter wasn’t lying; maybe he really didn’t?
Even though they had travelled and talked and laughed and prayed and worked together for three years, Peter and the others still did not really understand. And, as Jesus had taught many times and in many ways, love is incompatible with fear. It was not just Peter’s fear talking that evening when Jesus was arrested, it was his distance from love.
Probably the best thing we can do to deal with our fears – whatever they are – is to move closer to Jesus, and to let his love infiltrate who we are in every possible way.
Caiaphas understood Jesus, but he did not love him. Peter loved Jesus, but – as Jesus pointed out later, after the resurrection – he still had a ways to go.
Think about the two men:
- Caiaphas: To know who Jesus really is and to reject him anyway!
- Peter: To be impulsive, enthusiastic, all in: to be “Mr. Try to Walk on Water”; to be “Foundation of the Church” guy – but to be found lacking when it came to a deep relationship of love!
May our experience of worship today bring us into a deeper knowledge of and relationship with God, and also invite us into a more complete experience of Jesus’ freeing love.
In love, and because of love – DEREK