Denial: Disassociating, Detachment, Rejection, Refusal, Declaring to be untrue
Peter and Jesus had been through so many heart-connecting moments together in the previous 3 years. They shared intimate moments when after a long day of preaching, Jesus would sit down and explain what he said. He helped Peter see life through his eyes. Peter was singled out and praised for attempting to walk on water. And he was one of the few who was allowed to see Jesus in all of his glory and told to keep the secret. They knew each other. They were close.
What was it Jesus asked him before he went off to pray? “My soul is sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch. Pray that you may not enter temptation.” Right up to the last moment, Jesus bore His soul to Peter, asking him to remain and watch.
And then it happened so quickly. They took Jesus. They led him to the High Priest. What would happen to him? Would he be tried? Would he be flogged? Or worse, would he be killed? Peter had to go see, so he followed… at a distance. Not too close, you never know what could happen. They might think he’s just like Jesus. They might think he teaches the same things, or at least, believes them. They might even take him too. And punish him. He couldn’t defend Him. He needed to watch... at a distance... so that he could know what happened, or...help, or…
“At a distance.” Denial is so much easier and more excusable “at a distance”. Peter chose to detach himself, instead of to remain in the closeness. In this case, association meant trial, suffering, or death. Distance was safer.
What about me? When have I rejected Jesus? When has association with Jesus endangered my schedule, my reputation, my security, my comfort? Jesus tells us as well to “remain in Me”, and yet, so often I ignore His plea out of protection, safety or convenience.
And where is my heart and thinking at these moments? Distanced from God. Usually focused on myself...protecting my own image, security, future. Ugh. Convicting. And Peter felt this too. Did Jesus’ voice echo in his mind saying, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me?” Do I?
BUT, there is hope in this passage! While Peter distances himself, His Savior takes steps to draw him near. Jesus looked at Peter literally, but never looked away figuratively. He continued His journey to the cross to bear the horrible burden of Peter’s sin and everyone else’s sin who has ever denied Him. We distance, but He draws near.
Father, we praise You for Your plan to draw us back to You. We can come before Your throne only because Jesus took those steps to bring us back. Forgive us for the times we distance ourselves from You. We are prone to wander. Teach us how to remain with You, to abide in Your goodness, Your eternal promises, and Your Word. Show us what “denying ourselves” looks like, as Jesus was the ultimate example.
Questions to ponder:
- When has association with Jesus endangered your schedule, your reputation, your security, your comfort?
- What does it looks like to “remain” with Jesus? Where is your heart and mind right now?
- What truth about Jesus’ gospel do you need to hear and remember as you ponder how you deny Jesus?
– Robin Rees