Life Notes—March 4, 2010
“Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’ But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about.’” Mark 14: 39-40
Jesus, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, is kissed by Judas, a sign identifying him so the Temple guards could drag him away to trial. Conflicted Peter is trying to be invisible outside the Temple, wanting to monitor the events without being identified as one of Jesus’ followers. He is recognized by others in the area and three times denies knowing Jesus; just as Jesus told him he would do. His denial was like a little white lie that suddenly takes on a life of its own. His first denial was matter-of-fact, but by the third one he was cursing and swearing an oath. Sometimes, when a lie is not accepted, there is a desire to repeat the lie in vulgar or extreme ways to try to make it more believable.
I remember being told it is always best to tell the truth, especially if you have a poor memory. In Peter’s case it wasn’t just a matter of getting caught in a lie. It was a matter of being victimized by a frenzied, unruly crowd seeking action in the dizzying night. I picture the scene resembling ravenous sharks smelling blood in the water. Peter, tired and confused and seeing the central focus of his life treated as a common criminal, reacts in a manner consistent with most of us mortals—self-preservation. History is full of people who have found themselves on the wrong side of right by refusing to challenge the crowd in the interest of personal well-being—Nazi Germany comes to mind. There is Peter. There, too, am I.
I know there have been many times in my life when someone in my presence has been treated unfairly and I ignored opportunities to stand up for them, to stand beside them. Likewise, I cannot count the number of times I’ve stood by silently as others around me have spoken words diametrically opposed to what I know and believe about Christ. I might as well have shouted, “I don’t know this man!” Fortunately, Peter’s experience reminds us we are loved and understood, in spite of our weakness. Grace is amazing.
This will be the third Sunday of Lent. Tom’s sermon title is “Condemned by the Righteous,” drawn from the scripture found in Mark 14: 53-72. Our church-wide Lenten study, “24 Hours That Changed the World,” continues with several Sunday morning classes, and others throughout the week. Life service is at 10:45 in Brady Hall. Traditional worship in the sanctuary is at 8:30 and 11:00. Contemporary worship at the west campus at 9:30.
Come home to worship this Sunday—a safe place to admit you know your Savior!
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator