Arresting Jesus, they marched him off and took him into the house of the Chief Priest. Peter followed, but at a safe distance. In the middle of the courtyard some people had started a fire and were sitting around it, trying to keep warm. One of the serving maids sitting at the fire noticed him, then took a second look and said, "This man was with him!"
He denied it, "Woman, I don't even know him."
A short time later, someone else noticed him and said, "You're one of them."
But Peter denied it: "Man, I am not."
About an hour later, someone else spoke up, really adamant: "He's got to have been with him! He's got 'Galilean' written all over him."
Peter said, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about." At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." He went out and cried and cried and cried.
The men in charge of Jesus began poking fun at him, slapping him around. They put a blindfold on him and taunted, "Who hit you that time?" They were having a grand time with him.
When it was morning, the religious leaders of the people and the high priests and scholars all got together and brought him before their High Council. They said, "Are you the Messiah?"
He answered, "If I said yes, you wouldn't believe me. If I asked what you meant by your question, you wouldn't answer me. So here's what I have to say: From here on the Son of Man takes his place at God's right hand, the place of power."
How do you respond when you blow it? When you mess up big and you know it and you know that others know it too. What’s your response?
Many of us try to cover it up. We try to pretend like it didn’t happen. You know, just act normal and maybe nobody will say anything.
When we live in denial of our mistakes, when we live in denial of our sin-sickness, it will destroy us.
I know, I know, this is a cheery topic for the third Tuesday in Advent. But, nonetheless, this is where the text has brought us. We are at the point in the story where Peter really messes up. He does so in a way that is beyond his own comprehension. The thing is, Jesus even warned him that this would happen. He told Peter that he would deny him three times and that the denial would happen that night. Everything Jesus said happened.
Jesus didn’t mince words about the denial issue. Do you remember his teaching in Mark 8:34-48?
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Peter surely had these words ringing loud in his heart and mind as the denial came rushing out of his mouth and the rooster crowed.
His response was abject grief. I love the way that Peterson renders this in the message, “He went out and cried and cried and cried.”
How do you respond when you sin? Do you hide? Do you project? Do you blame shift? Do you get angry?
I do all those things in various ways. It’s not easy to face our sin. The worst tasting words are, “I’m really sorry. I blew it. Will you forgive me?” BLECH! It really hits you in the pride to say that. It’s so much easier for me to simply shift blame, hide, and project on to someone else. Why do you think people who are often loudest about some issue that they consider to be abjectly immoral are often waste deep in the same behavior?
Shame and guilt are powerful. They drive us to deal with our sin-sickness in really unhealthy ways.
So, how do we heal? How do we deal in a healthy way?
I am learning that grieving is one of the key steps. If not the foundational step. It’s good, healthy, and helpful to weep over our sin-sickness. When we do we find ourselves at a place to come to the healer, to our soul physician, to Jesus who binds up our sin-sick hearts with grace, mercy, and compassion.
Just like Jesus welcomes back Peter after the resurrection with grace, so he welcomes us.
Grieving, really grieving over the sin-sickness in us is good. The grieving frees us from guilt and shame. It is not a symbol of it. Guilt and shame make us angry, resentful, and “tough.” Grieving makes us compassionate, empathetic, and gentle.
So, how do you deal with the sin-sickness in you? I know I need to remind myself to be a bit more like Peter and cry and cry and cry.
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