When should we speak and when should we not?
What part does our own preservation play in what we say and do?
How should we treat those on the receiving end of our anger or frustration?
How do we react to how things are presented to us?
So many questions I have about today’s reading from Luke 22:54-71
Of course, one of the centre pieces of it is the denial by Peter of Jesus.
It reminds me of a politician under close scrutiny by a commentator. They ask something that is a trap and by denying it they then make themselves open to a charge of lying. Think Clinton. Think Huhne. Often the original charge isn’t going to destroy them. It’s the lie that does.
We want justice. We want blood. We want to have their head on a platter. We want the commentator to lay into them.
No doubt that is what it felt like to Peter. Devastated by the arrest of Jesus he is trying to survive whilst he works things out. Rarely is grace offered when someone is on the back foot. When we feel that they are at bay.
Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. Peter betrays Jesus with a lie.
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, ‘This man also was with him.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know him.’ A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, ‘You also are one of them.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not!’ Then about an hour later yet another kept insisting, ‘Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are talking about!’ At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed.The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.
I am amazed at the grace Jesus shows towards Peter. A look of sadness? A look of knowing? Recognition that he had already told him that this would happen?
Sometimes I am utterly amazed at the way people in Churches can show so little grace. You hear it on the radio or TV. Just look around at the politics of the church. Why show grace when you can hold a grudge or moan?
Jesus is extraordinary. He just looks. It is enough to break Peter. He doesn’t have to lecture him or to make him confess or to shame him. He is shamed by that simple look.
Maybe we need to show more grace to one another. Maybe we need to show we care more than get proven right.
Maybe it is especially when people are at their most vulnerable or have their backs up against the wall that we need to show love and grace.
Jesus, the innocent one, is mocked and beaten and abused and doesn’t say a thing. He allows the lies to swamp him.
Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and kept asking him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’ They kept heaping many other insults on him.
He pays the price that all of us are guilty of.
Maybe if we are in a denomination we need to be more careful with our insults.
Maybe if we are in a church we need to be more grace-filled.
And wherever we are we need to remember that we have more of Peter or the accusers in us than we do Jesus.
And he went out and wept bitterly.
Previous years Easter Meditations: