Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I Am Not - John 18:17, 25

Last night we thought about the words of Jesus as he identified himself, displaying a spark of his divinity in the words 'I am he.' Tonight, we have a similar phrase, again three words, but with the last word completely different. Not on the lips of Jesus, but on the lips of Peter, as he denies his Master and Lord.

Jesus had previously warned Peter that he would deny him three times - 'Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.' (John 13:38). But that was hours ago. Jesus had been arrested and taken to the high priest's house. Following at a distance, Peter and 'another disciple' (was it John?) made it to the house.

The other disciple knew the high priest and was able to get into the courtyard, but Peter was outside. So the other disciple spoke to the servant girl at the door, and brings Peter inside. From my reading of the text it seems that the servant girl knows that John is a disciple of Jesus - so there's no issue. But when she asks Peter 'You also are not one of this man's disciples, are you?' Peter denies it with that sentence: 'I am not.'

Gone is the bravado of the garden, where Peter chopped off the ear of one of the servants. Gone is the outspoken Peter who had tried to tell Jesus that he didn't have to go the way of the cross.

In the face of a servant girl - what threat? Was it fear, or shame, or what? He denies that he is a disciple of Jesus. Oh Peter.

Inside, in the courtyard, it's a bit nippy, so a fire has been lit - note, a charcoal fire, verse 18 (leap over to John 21:9 to see another charcoal fire, this time for a beach barbecue, where Jesus restores Peter, but that's for another blog!). More servants of the high priest are standing warming themselves, and again the question comes. 'You also are not one of his disciples, are you?' Again, Peter supplies the short answer, 'I am not.' Oh Peter.

We then see the expert witness appear. One of the servants is a relative of the man whose ear Peter had lopped off not too long before. He had been in the garden and seen what happened. So he asks 'Did I not see you in the garden with him?' Surely you can't deny it, after wielding a sword and wreaking havoc with a servant's ear. Yet for the third time, Peter denies it, and bang on time, the rooster crows.

Oh Peter.

Are there times that we deny our Lord? Maybe it's in school or work or university, when someone asks 'You're not a Christian, are you?' Is it easier to say no, than to face the possible questions or ridicule? Or when we give in to those around us, following their example, caving in to pressure to conform, to be like them. Or in our private lives, when our actions deny our faith.

Jesus said that it would not be easy to follow him. If the world hated him, then it will also hate us, if we are his. Yet we take heart, because Jesus has overcome the world - he who is in us, is greater than he that is in the world. We do not need to fear.

What will your answer be when others ask you 'You also are not one of this man's disciples are you?'

Well, are you?

No comments:

Post a Comment