Three Times

69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.

70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”

74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. Matthew 26:69-74

I can picture in my mind’s eye Peter standing by a fire warming himself, trying to make heads or tails over what just happened and even berating himself for fleeing the scene while they hauled Jesus away. His mind was racing about what his next moves were now that Jesus was in the hands of the authorities.

Would he take his sword and use it more wisely next time?
Why didn’t He fight when He had the chance?
We would’ve backed him up.
Why’d I run?

Then a servant girl interrupted his thoughts and accused him of actually travelling with Jesus.

Someone else, another girl, said the same thing.

And then a group of them pointed him out.

With each accusation, his protestations got louder and more vulgar, never once realizing that after the first denial he was on his way to fulfilling Jesus’ prediction.

I don’t think it was as much denying Jesus as it was trying to save his own neck. If they had taken out the ring leader, just imagine what they would do with his underlings, or so the logic could have been.

Still, though, it goes in this history books as a great denial. This denial would leave marks for years to come. Even though Jesus forgave him, Peter had to live with it. Of course, we know the full story where Jesus confronts him about the denial, but Peter had to live with this all his born days.

Did it motivate him to be the great apostle that he was?
Was it a constant reminder of his own need for the man he denied?
Was it also a reminder of how sinful and selfish he actually was?

It should be a reminder for us as well, that if even the people who literally ate and walked with Jesus could sin in so great a fashion, we should be careful that we don’t fall into a trap of thinking we could never stoop that low or fall that far. On the contrary. We still exist with sin nature and it’s always knocking at our door, nudging its way in any way it can.

Thank the Lord we have a Savior greater than our sin and failures. Call on Him today.

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The Pitiful Abusers

The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”

“He is worthy of death,” they answered.

67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?” Matthew 26:53-58

I’ve always felt pity for the people who mocked Jesus and struck him like this. It’s always pitiable when a defenseless person is being bullied and abused with no visible means of defending himself. Now, we all know that Jesus could have put up a bigger fight and had swarms of angels obliterate everyone within a hundred feet of him, but He didn’t. He knew what He needed to do. Still, the guards realized seconds after their death the errors of their ways. They hit the Son of God. That’s not going to go over well with the Father!

Avowed atheists tell us they know exactly what they’re doing. Later in the crucifixion story, Jesus would say to his accusers, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” Luke 23:34. To the atheists, then, they really don’t know what they’re doing. They think they have it all figured out and will tell you so. An eternity awaits them that they weren’t counting on.

Similarly, these people who mocked our Lord really didn’t know what they were doing. Yes, they will be held accountable, but they were confused about right and wrong. Someone had told them that Jesus was a terrible man.

We all know people who are confused about right and wrong, up and down, in and out. The same people who accuse others of being “science-deniers” will swear up and down there are more than two sexes and no one can know when life begins.

Still, we pray that God will reveal Himself in any number of ways in that person’s life. God knows best how to touch people.

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And Be Thankful

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

Gratitude is in short supply these days. There is just so much going on in our society that we forget about that we have been blessed beyond measure.

Recently, my wife gave a Thanksgiving stuffing recipe to a nurse friend who was from Zambia. She and her husband are not allowed to go back to Zambia for unknown reasons, quite possibly because of ongoing strife there. They are grateful to be in the States where their freedoms and peaceful living are assured.

Call up someone you haven’t seen or heard from in a while. Let them know you’re grateful for them even though you don’t speak that much. Express your appreciation for the people at your table on this day.

Happy Thanksgiving and May God Bless You and Your Family!

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Was He Praying In That Silence?

Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.'”

62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. Matthew 26:61-62

Jesus remained silent. He didn’t have to speak. He had truth on His side. He didn’t have to answer to anyone. Jesus still held the cards.

What was playing through His mind during all of this? Was He praying for his captors and rulers? Was He listing in His mind the number and types of punishment these people would receive eventually?

I had a professor in Bible School that would be speaking and all of a sudden, he’d stop, nod his head a few times and slowly look at the 30 students in his class, all the while nodding his head. Then he’d continue speaking. No one in class doubted for a moment what he was doing during that silence and looking around the classroom: he was praying. What could he say that would remain with the students? How’s that man in the back dealing with all the stress of family life? Where would these students be 10 years from now.

My guess is that He was praying for the people who were falsely accusing Him. How else explains the calm demeanor? It wasn’t a “bite your tongue” anger that we might experience if we really wanted to speak but choose not to.

Praying for people when they don’t know you’re praying for them always gives you the upper hand in any situation. That’s where the introverts have an advantage because we may not be inclined to speak anyhow. On the other hand, what’s being said might just “be fightin’ words” and we’re “forced” to talk back.

Of course all of this is speculation, but we do know He was doing only as the Father commanded. He was being completely obedient, humble to the point of imminent death.

This week as you’re gathered around the Thanksgiving table, pray for those surrounding you. There are plenty of arguments that could ensue as you get together but you should just pray for those speaking. If someone asks you, by all means, let them know what you think, but pray a lot this weekend. You’ll be glad you did.

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Life is Totally Unfair

57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.

59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Matthew 26:57-60

These religious leaders were corrupt beyond belief. Not being able to kill him based on what He had said, they had been actively searching for those who could testify against Him, and were willing to take those who gave false testimony. I’d love to hear how they justified their actions.

Life is unfair.

In most of the world, life is really unfair. People are mistreated, abused, overtaxed, undervalued, taken advantage of, and harassed by corrupt government officials. It’s been like that since the world began. Power-hungry corrupt officials have dominated societies. So, the statement, “life is unfair” is a serious understatement.

Even in Western society, life is unfair. We feel the effects less but we’ve all felt the unfairness of mistreatment and abuse. That’s not even to mention the young person dying so young or the child with terminal cancer situations.

We hate it. It’s totally unfair. Unfair all around.

Often the best we can do is bring it to God in prayer. Without question, Jesus understood unfair and injustice and helplessness. He understands it and can life you out of the mess you’re in through no fault of your own. Will He make it disappear? Probably not, but He will bear you up and see you through it.

Of course, He sees the injustices and is waiting to make the crooked paths straight and to right all the wrongs.

Will we see it in our lifetime? Possibly but probably not.

But justice will be served.

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