Thursday, April 5, 2012
Luke 22:54-62 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. 55 When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56 Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 Then about an hour later still another kept insisting, “Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. 61 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.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
A Second Chance
On our last evening in Ganta, Liberia the hospital staff invited us to a wonderful dinner. Our team, several doctors, and a few other invited guests were gathered around a table, seated in the center of the room. The hospital staff and other guests were seated around us on the edges. We were the center of attention it seemed.
After we had enjoyed a wonderful meal, our hosts presented each person on the team with a piece of traditional African clothing. The men received a shirt and the women a traditional African dress. We were grateful for their hospitality and their generosity. However, after each one of us had been presented with their gift, the garments sat folded on our laps.
“No, no,” one of the women objected, “We want to see them on you!” “We want to take a picture with you,” said another.
We were guests who received a gift and denied our hosts the only appreciation they desired: for us to wear the garments. Each of the women soon had one of the Liberian women helping them put the dress over their head. The men had an easier time slipping their shirts over their heads and clothing.
While perhaps a simple example, we were guests invited to a meal. We were grateful for their generosity and hospitality. In our ignorance, we had denied our hosts the simple thanks of wearing their gift. We were even more grateful for a second chance.
After Jesus had celebrated the Passover with the disciples, after he had broken bread and shared the cup, after he ushered in a new covenant, he knew there was one among the twelve who would deny him. Peter, not once, but three times, denied knowing Jesus. Peter received warning from Jesus this would happen, “Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied me three times.” (Lk 22:34)
It was a turning point in Jesus’ life. Judas had betrayed him and now Peter had denied him. Jesus’ disciples, his closest followers, were beginning to scatter. The intensity of the journey was increasing. The crucifixion was at hand.
We deny Jesus whether our inactions stem from ignorance or intentionality. Whether we are deliberate in our “no” or simply find the invitation inconvenient, the way of Jesus is not always easy. The way of Jesus comes with a price.
Our journey with Christ is always unfolding. There is grace and mercy in abundance. There may even be second chances.
As the journey unfolds, Jesus will offer Peter a second chance, too.
Lord, thank you for never giving up on us. Thank you for pursuing us when we are unaware and even ignorant. We need your mercy more than ever. We find it easy to live by what we know. Our calendars and bank accounts give us the comfort and convenience we desire. We look to you, Jesus, to guide our actions and help us to continue growing in love for you and our community. We love you, Lord. Thank you for loving us, even in the moments we’ve turned from you. We offer ourselves to be shaped by you, Lord, and to be used for your purposes, Amen.
ps. Yes, the rooster pictured in both photos is from our time in Monrovia. We heard the rooster crow AFTER the sun was up while we were in Monrovia.