Beginning with Peter the disciple, Jesus has heard it all. Never, never. Famous last words. I’ve had many “Never, Never” statements. Every time, God just shakes His head and chuckles. (I’m almost positive!) How many times have you and I said, “I will never do this or say that…?”
During this Holy Week, I’ve been reading through Matthew’s and John’s gospels about the Passion of Christ. I’m struck by all the human flailing and failing. It’s like one huge mirror that reflects all of humanity’s brokenness. Mine included.
Today, Maunday Thursday, is when we remember Jesus’ final meal with his friends. And the betrayal that followed. It’s worth remembering Jesus knew everything that would go down in the next few hours…
Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
Never-Never. The disciples all said the same thing. We’ve all said the same thing. Jesus knew the sincerity of Peter’s “Never-Never” statement. He also knew the human frailty behind Peter’s words.
Later, as Peter tried to warm himself by the fire, it’s as if his first denial was like throwing gasoline on the fire of his betrayal…whoosh! One denial led to another. Then cursing. Then swearing. A whole conflagration of fear, lies, and denial.
Lord, have mercy. I’m no different than Peter.
Questions: In what ways are you and I like Peter? What very real human emotions do you think Jesus was feeling when Peter promised his loyalty to Jesus? And then, when Peter crumbled?
I’d love your comments, thoughts and reflections on this powerful story.
Painting: And Peter Wept oil on canvas by Wayne Forte