The Call to Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, Day 65
They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, ‘We heard him say, “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.” ’ But even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, ‘Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?’ But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Jesus said, ‘I am; and “you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power”, and “coming with the clouds of heaven.” ’
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?’ All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, ‘Prophesy!’ The guards also took him over and beat him.
While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.’ But 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. And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, ‘This man is one of them.’ But 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.’ But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about.’ At 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. Mark 14:53-72The person you trust the most. The person you have looked up to as a mentor, a friend. The person who has taught you so much about the world. This person who knows the worst about you. Learns the worst thing you have ever done. You are standing there with nothing hidden anymore, the worst thing anyone could find out about you is now out in the open. And you break down. You loose it and fall apart. The tears just will not stop.
This is the moment for Peter his soul is bared before God. He has done the worst thing imaginable. He has rejected Jesus. Jesus has been captured and brought before the religious council. They have accused him a blasphemy and Peter followed along and watched. He watched as people spoke against Jesus as they told untruth after untruth. He sat warming himself at the fire with the guards who had arrested. As these false witnesses spoke, they contradicted each other until after hearing it all you knew that what was spoken was not true. This trial seemed a joke because what was being said just did not create the picture of fairness and honesty. It is clear, there will be no truth spoken by those conducting this trial. And the one witness who could speak the truth is hanging out getting warm.
So after the witnesses have spoken the prosecutor asks how do you respond to what they have to say. Jesus doesn't speak. He has a choice, will he let this false witness stand or will he speak. Jesus doesn't speak. He doesn't have anything to say on a question of combating the lies and untruths about him. But as that question is being asked was he thinking about where his integrity lies. Will he speak his own truth? Will he speak about his mission and ministry? Will he speak about who he is in God's dawning kingdom? So another question comes at him. 'Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ and Jesus says, "I am." Jesus owns his identity as messiah, as a Holy One of God, as a beloved of God. This sends the prosecutor over the edge, tearing his garments. He urges them having heard the blasphemy to vote. They vote to condemn him to death, they spit on him and hit him.
Peter is watching this there by the fire. He sees the ill treatment, the disrespect shown Jesus. And then he does it. The worst part of himself is laid bare. When he is outed as a follower of Jesus at the fire. He says I don't know what you are talking about and gets up and moves into a different part of the courtyard. But that servant girl tells those around him that he is one of Jesus' followers. Peter denied it. But after a while those around him speak of it again. Peter denies even knowing him. And at that moment, Peter notices the cock crowing and realizes what he has done.
Peter the last of the disciples present has denied and now deserted Jesus. He has done the worst thing he could imagine. He has forgotten who he is and who he follows. This is the worst moment of his life. His soul is all its pain and ugliness is laid open before God. God and Jesus knows the worst there is in him and he breaks down and cries.
If this was the end of the story, for Peter all looks lost. For he is at his lowest point. When we are there in the darkest point, when we have to face the worst there is to know about ourselves. That part of our being, the dark side that we don't want to acknowledge or face about ourselves. Well Peter is there, it is right before him. He breaks down and the tears flow. Part of our discipleship journey is to recognize those dark parts of ourselves. The parts that we need to work on and change. We have to come face to face with the parts of ourselves that fail, that fall short of who we want to be, who we hope to be, who we are called to be. And when we come face to face with those parts of ourselves we have a choice. We can continue to downward spiral and stay trapped in the sorrow. We can then choose to bury that side of ourselves, put it back in the hidden recesses where we don't acknowledge it and move forward ignoring that part of us. Or we can choose to acknowledge our weakness and move forward. We can learn to recognize its presence and choose to act differently when we want to fall back on out worst characteristics.
For Peter this is not the end of the story. He does get lost in the darkness for a while, but Jesus knows he will turn around, will repent, and turn back to God. For at the end of the Gospel, the women are told to find Peter and tell him what happened. Peter is given a second chance. He is invited gain to Galilee and begin the journey again.
As you sit quietly with God, think about that place inside you that you fear sharing with God. Bring it out into the open and acknowledge your failing. As you think about this part of yourself, hear the whisper. Repent. Here the call, turn around. Hear the voice calling, turn back to me. The voice looks at your failing and invites you to believe the Good News and help build the dawning kingdom. Amen.
Change by Tracy Chapman