Thursday, March 6, 2014

Peter Denies Christ, who Denies Himself for You

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed. (Jn 18:25-27)
So Peter denies Christ two more times and the rooster crows. That’s a tough thing. Peter was one of the inner circle of disciples. He was the first to confess Jesus to be the Christ, and then he denies him. He was led to this denial in part from a false understanding of who the Christ would be. This is always an issue really. Always an issue. People often have misconceptions about Christ and what he will do for them, or should do. When Jesus doesn’t play the game they want him to play, they abandon him. They perhaps believe he doesn’t care about them. Sometimes they think he is really powerless to help them with their problems. None of which are any different from the problems others face. And those problems bite. Unemployment, marital strife, divorce, estrangement from children, debt, bankruptcy, people go to church hoping God will help them through. And of course God does, but not because they go to church. God gives all people their daily bread, even all evil people. And all people struggle with these problems in life. Sometimes church even amplifies these problems. Parents aren’t always happy to see their children embrace the faith they have rejected. Children are sometimes resentful of the faith their parents have raised them with (and sometimes rightly so!). Of course there is no temptation man faces that is not common to all men. And yet, somehow and in some way, God gives us all we need for the support of this body and soul. But if it is what we need, it isn’t always what we want, and the temptation leads us to abandon and deny Christ, when Christ denied himself for you, even as he denied himself for Peter.
Christ denies himself for you. He denies himself many good things to take on the form of a servant, empties himself as it were, so that he would be found in the appearance of man. On this night, Jesus denies himself life itself, and legions of angels that would come down from heaven and rescue him. Jesus denies himself for Peter, and denies himself for you. Not that you would be spared earthly trouble, and the tribulation Christ promised the world would give you. But that he could give you more than all you could possibly think of asking from him in the end when this life is over. And that through you he might give it to your friends and family also, when you confess your faith in Christ, and do not deny Christ who denied himself for you.

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