Day 20 of Lent: Peter’s Denial

Mark 14:66-72.  We are halfway through the Lenten journey and we arrive at the story of a man torn in half.  Peter, the outspoken disciple who seems to often have his foot in his mouth, who faithfully promises that he will follow Jesus even to death, who rashly cuts off the ear of the man in the mob, has now followed Jesus to the High Priest’s house.  He sits by the fire listening, close but quiet.  A maid recognizes him as a disciple and he denies.  Interestingly, he does not flee.  He moves into the shadows by the gate.  He wants to be brave but he is moving further from the light.  His love for Jesus and his fear battle within him.  Yet even there a bystander recognizes him as Galilean, perhaps by his clothes or accent.  Again Peter denies, even invoking a curse on himself.  Love has drawn him so very close and fear has driven him to denial.  He is a man torn in half.

         The cock crows the second time.  In the midst of his trauma, Peter remembers.  Remembers what?  Jesus predicted this would happen.  Jesus knew he was weak and would be praying for him.  In the midst of trauma sometimes the right Bible verse comes to mind.  Or perhaps the phone rings and a friend calls.  Maybe the perfect song comes on the radio or iPod that gives the words we need to hear.  We remember that God knows we are but dust and we remember that we are not alone in our trial.  Awareness of our imperfection somehow humbles us as we remember that God knows and cares.

         Secondly Peter breaks down and weeps.  Having a good cry as we face our failures and acknowledge our limitations is sometimes the best thing we can do.  Crying, even for men, is therapeutic.  Lent reminds us who we are and whose we are.  We are sinners prone to wander.  Our lives are in God’s hands, not God is in our hands.  We come precariously close to thinking we can control God with prayer but Lent reminds us that God is in control.  He knows and loves us still.  Even as Peter has denied knowing Jesus, Jesus has not left Peter.  God does not leave us when we sin but patiently waits for us to humble ourselves and turn to him.  In our confusion, he remembers us and holds us.  Turn to him.  Thank you, Lord.

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