Peter, Peter, Peter. What were you thinking? Only hours earlier it had been going so well. Only hours earlier you had promised to never desert Jesus (Matthew 26:33). When they came to arrest him you drew a sword to fight back (John 18:10). But then came the questions in the courtyard as Jesus was being interrogated by the high council. Three times the accusation came: “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.” (Matt 26:69). And three times the denial came from Peter “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” (Matt 26:74). Jesus is going through his darkest hours with death looming near, and Peter, one of the inner-core elite of the disciples, the one who swore he would never turn his back on Jesus no matter what, is denying all knowledge of him.
It’s easy to look at Peter with 2000 years of hindsight and wonder how he could have even considered denying Jesus. He had a front row ticket through the miracles of the previous couple of years. He had seen the sick cured, the blind restored to sight, the lepers healed, the hungry crowd fed with just a few small fish and loaves, the winds and waves calmed by the power of Jesus’ words. He had walked on water and seen Elijah and Moses talk with Jesus on the mountain top. If that had been us, we would never have possibly considered denying Jesus. Right?
The sad truth is, I think we do it all the time. Just think back over the last few days – did you keep quiet when you had the chance to speak up about your faith? Denied. Did you neglect to mention church when telling your friends what you did at the weekend? Denied. Did you change the subject when your non-Christian colleague asked about the Bible? Denied.
I know I personally am really bad at sharing my faith with others, and can think of two recent examples. One day I was wearing a T-shirt from the (Christian) camp I work at, and one of the girls I live with (who I had never explicitly told I was a Christian) saw it and asked about the camp and what they did. I started into talking about all the sports and water activities, and then she asked if it was a Christian camp. That’s what I should have been emphasising from the start, not the fact that there was a ropes course. Denied. Another day I got some pretty positive feedback on an essay from a tutor, and on the way back to our flat one of the girls in my class who isn’t a Christian mentioned how writing was something that I was good at with my website (All4God). I hadn’t told her about All4God, she must have seen links on Facebook. And there was an opportunity for me to tell the rest of the group walking over about All4God. But I just accepted the compliment and said no more. Denied.
So often we think we could never deny Jesus like Peter did. Yet so often what we say (and what we don’t say) deny Jesus just like Peter did. We need to adopt the attitude Paul had when he wrote “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.” Romans 1:16. Pray that the Holy Spirit would embolden you to speak of Christ to the world without being ashamed. Pray that he would give you the courage to not deny Jesus with your words. And take heart that though Peter denied Jesus things turned around when he was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Just because you denied Jesus in the past does not mean you are disqualified from being used for his glory today.