PREPARE TO LISTEN. Be silent and still and then pray: I delight in the way of your decrees as much as in all riches. (Psalm 119:14)
READ: Mark 14:66-72 Station 3: The High Priest’s place. ‘Before the cock crows’
66While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. 67When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.’ 68But he denied it, saying, ‘I do not know or understand what you are talking about.’ And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed. 69And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, ‘This man is one of them.’ 70But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.’ 71But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about.’ 72At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.
The story returns to Peter, who’d belatedly followed Jesus at a distance. It was a courageous move on Peter’s part, even though it wasn’t sufficiently courageous. Peter knew if Jesus was prosecuted as a revolutionary against Rome, then, if he was identified as one of his followers, he’d go down with Jesus. He lacked the courage for that. When his distinctive Galilean accent gave him away to those residents of Jerusalem, they were quick to accuse him of being “one of them,” a Jesus-follower. I think we can all empathize with Peter’s fear of arrest, suffering and death. How would we hold up? Peter ends up doing exactly what Jesus said he’d do—deny him three times. Despite his boast to follow Jesus to death, Peter was unwilling to do so. Instead of obeying the call to deny himself (Mk 8:34) he denied Jesus. At the third accusation, Peter ‘lost his cool,’ cursing and swearing an oath, insisting, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about.’
There is a sense that Peter was right about not knowing Jesus. Ironically, as Ched Meyers notes, “for all his following, Peter truly does not ‘know’ who Jesus is” (Binding the Strong Man. 1991, p. 377). The second crow of the cock brought Peter back to his senses and he saw himself for what he was—a denier of Jesus. His repentance was bitter and real.
The challenging reflection for us to prayerfully wonder about is: Do I really know Jesus? If he walked into the room right now, would I recognize him, or would my comforting cultural images of Jesus get in the way? What needs to change in my life and in my picture of Jesus?
RESPOND TO JESUS IN PRAYER
Lord Jesus, keep giving me a spirit of wisdom to discern who you really are, of courage to name and discard my distorted views so that I walk your way of self-denial, carrying my own cross to the end. Amen.
GO AND LIVE IN OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST, despite sometimes not knowing him.