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John 13:36-38, Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial

Friday, March 16

Only Human

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

Peter had no intention of ever letting down his teacher, master, and friend. For three years he had followed Jesus, learned Jesus' ways, and saw the unrest Jesus caused the authorities. He had prepared himself for battle. He was ready to fight with Jesus against their oppressors. He was ready to die fighting.

But he was not prepared to go down the way the events actually unfolded. He was not ready for Jesus to surrender so passively. Once Jesus was arrested, the reality of their danger was too much for Peter. He did what he had to do to protect himself against the same fate as his master -- he denied knowing him at all.

We have begun fostering newborns -- a dream I've had for nearly 20 years. We brought home our first little peanut in January. Parenting has been a breeze. What's been tough is all the other stuff that goes with the fostering system. We'd been told we wouldn't have much interaction with the birth parents, but a loophole made it necessary for me to meet the birth mom one afternoon. I was prepared fora angst, agitation, despair, anger. I was ready to bring all my compassion and patience, and show love for a mom who would clearly be distressed that she was not allowed to raise her own child.

I was totally unprepared for what actually occurred. Instead of anger and resentment, she came with an attitude of entitlement. She had an air about her that told me she was quite pleased with herself for birthing children (this was not her first) that she didn't have to raise, but who she could see whenever she wanted. She could tell others how she wanted her children raised and she could use the system to do the heavy lifting for her. It seemed as though she thought she was doing me a favor by letting me raise her precious little one. The whole encounter was shocking and troubling. In the moment, I brought all my patience and peace. But once we parted ways, all my own anger, impatience, disgust, and judgment flooded over me. Despite my best efforts, I hated this woman for what she had done to this child, and the devastation of so many lives she left in her smug wake. Immediately I was upset with myself for doing exactly what I told myself I would not do -- I let my own judgments, fears, and attitudes move me from compassion to hatred. 

We might be tempted to judge Peter for turning so quickly away from his beloved. But despite all his years of preparation, he had not prepared himself for this. His humanity defeated his integrity that day. But then, isn't that why Jesus came in the first place? To save us from ourselves?

Narrative Lectionary Text: John 13:36-38

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times."