Fear. Uncertainty. Disillusionment. All these can cause us to act in ways that we wouldn’t ordinarily, sometimes in ways that we would never have imagined.
Matthew records Peter’s three denials of Jesus in the courtyard of Caiaphas. Each denial was increasingly more forceful, even to the point of swearing and cursing. (Matthew 26:69-75)
Before you get the idea that Peter was using the kind of vulgarities that are all too common in movies and on street corners, his swearing would have been similar to a person today swearing on a stack of Bibles, and the curses he invoked would be more like our expression “May God strike me dead if…” Certainly, he could have used some spicy language, but we don’t want to export out ideas of swearing and cursing into those early morning hours two millennia ago.
Of all those who followed Jesus, Peter was one of the twelve. Of the twelve, Peter was among the three who were closest to Jesus. Peter and his brother Andrew were the fist disciples Jesus called to follow Him. Peter left the life he knew to pursue Jesus, and in doing so took a great risk. Peter was the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God and was the first to boldly declare it. Peter attempted to defend Jesus when He was being arrested. Peter even followed Jesus to Caiaphas’ home that night.
We wonder how this man who so unequivocally declared His allegiance to Jesus and left everything to follow Him could deny Jesus not once but three times, yet it happened. It is easy to sit on a church pew or a in a cushy recliner in our home and proclaim that we would never deny Jesus, but let’s not forget that Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will not!”
Certainly, we may not deny Jesus in the same way that Peter did, but do we deny Him in ways more subtle but no less real? Is our declaration that “Jesus is Lord” confined to a church building? Do we hesitate to identify ourselves as Christian in the public square? Do we offer our thanks over a restaurant meal in ways that no one would notice?
Now, we have all met those Christians who have taken things a bit too far, who slather on a layer of Jesus thicker than cheap makeup. I’m not talking about getting in people’s faces or about showing off our religiosity; it’s about being real. It’s about letting His teachings and His life shape the way we live. It’s about daily declaring our devotion to Him with both our words and our lifestyles.
Perhaps there will come a time when our situation may be more similar to Peter’s, until that time let our devotion to Christ overcome the temptation to deny Him in ways great or small.