3.12.2008

Stations of the Cross II >> Who, me?

Mark 14:53-72

I've spent a lot of time thinking about Peter's denial of Jesus, because I share that trait. Not that I've ever been in a position to publicly deny Jesus – this is, after all, a culture that values outward expressions of faith. I've never been in danger of persecution and, working so much in the church, not even of ostracism or being thought weird for having faith. But inwardly, I am able to deny what Jesus wants for me and to cheapen what he has done for me by seeking my own way.

I never really looked at Peter's denial as a denial of himself, of his true nature, who he was called and created to be. But that's exactly what it is. The one who so eagerly responds to Jesus, who gives up family and career to wander the countryside with his teacher, is not just denying Christ. In that moment a servant girl finds the heart of his weakness and he impulsively gives up the identity he has been forming in order to avoid what he thinks is a dangerous situation.

Jesus, of course, knows Peter's humanity. He names Peter's denial without judgment, without casting him away, though certainly with more than a little bit of sadness. Ultimately Jesus redeems Peter's failing, turning him into the core of his church and charging him with caring for his people. And scripture shows that Peter lives up to Jesus' faith in him. In Acts, in comparison with the very human, often clueless and rash disciple – a bit of a bumbler – Peter becomes a bold leader, an articulate and focused witness for his Master.

I feel that Jesus is bringing me, slowly and often against my nature, to a place where I am learning who I am in him. I pray that I can keep that focus, and move away from focusing on my own failings and start living into the faith Jesus has in me.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Alright, I am only on day two.

I think the heart wrenching thing that you point out here is that Peter, in denying Christ also denies "who he was called and created to be." The times that we do that, we deny the very things that we most value and care about. The result is a word we don't think about very much--which is "shame."

When I say something, for example, to frustrate or belittle my children, I am denying my very God-given role as mother and care-giver to my children. It is in those times that one's self-reproach is unbearable, and we feel so devastated because we know this is not who we are supposed to be.

It is so amazing that this is the very person Jesus returns to and says three times, "Peter, do you love me?" And what he wanted to know is if somewhere deep in his core, at his very essence, Peter still knew who he was--who he was called and created to be. I hear, "Peter, do you still know who you are?" And then, "Barbara, do you still know who you are at your core? Do you love me?"

And at this invitation, we express our sorrow and we can go back to doing what we are supposed to do--feeding those lambs under our care. We get a fresh chance to be that person.

As we keep our heart tender, we cling even more closely to Christ because we know how Peter feels when he is in that pit. But though Jesus knows it is easy enough for fear of shame and pain to drive us, what he wants us to do is walk in his love. I believe after these failings, he gives us even more strength to do so.
Barbara Lee

Bob said...

Amen, Barb. Because Christ embraced his humanity (and ours) we can embrace ours with all of its joys and weaknesses. Though like Peter -- and like Judas -- we can feel the unbearable weight of our failings. You've said it well: Jesus always invites us away from our false self and into our true self, "our child of God self" as the Message puts it. Isn't it a relief to know this is the self God sees?

Hope you're having a blessed Holy Week.