Mark 14: 66-72
He was very macho the night before—carrying a sword and pledging his very life—but now when the rooster crowed, he had let his Saviour down.
66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.
69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it.
After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”
71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said. You also were there with Jesus, weren’t you? Were you at church on Sabbath with Jesus? Did you spend time this morning reading His word or praying in His name? Have you grown up with His teachings and His presence in your home and in your life? Do people even know you are a Christian?
It is worthwhile pausing every now and then to ask ourselves these questions. Chances are they do. Chances are our neighbours have picked it up when we leave the house at the same time each week, dressed up and bringing food with us. Chances are our work colleagues have picked it up, because we don’t swear or because we’ve mentioned once in passing why we can’t join in on Friday drinks. Or our friends have picked it up when we’ve invited them over and they’ve met our pastor.
Chances are, even if you haven’t been explicit, people know that you’ve been with Jesus. They’ve seen you with Him, they know you volunteer on weekends at the soup kitchen, or visit old folks and prisoners and they’ve started to suspect you’re a Christian.
Which is a good thing. If you walk and talk like a Christian, that’s great. If you spend time with Jesus and it rubs off, that’s excellent! But does it stick? Ah, now here’s the problem. Because when Peter gets stressed, uncomfortable and afraid, all of a sudden, he denies that he has been with Jesus.
Just as Jesus predicted, Peter disowned him. This was the very thing Peter had sworn he would not do, and yet in the heat of the moment, Peter did it. He was very macho the night before—carrying a sword and pledging his very life—but now when the rooster crowed, he had let his Saviour down.
That is why we have to be very careful of our conduct—because people are always watching us. People know we are Christians and they are watching to see if our attitudes and actions reflect our label. So if we work in a high-pressured job, we have to be extra careful to be gracious and humble. If we are coaching a kid’s sporting team, we have to be encouraging and honest, building up and fostering an atmosphere of love and support, not a cutthroat, ruthless, win-at-all-costs mentality. At home, in front of our children, regardless of our pressures, our upbringings and their weaknesses, we must model self-control and selfless love, or we risk passing on our failings, or worse, have them question and reject the God we claim to follow and live for.
But there is hope for us as there was hope for Peter.
As sinful human beings we all have times in our lives where we succumb to the pressure of sin. We deny Jesus and separate ourselves from the love of God. That is what sin is, taking ourselves away from God’s saving love. But it doesn’t have to be terminal. As we know, Peter recovered from his lapse in judgement, Jesus forgave him and entrusted him with the care of His new church. And so our test becomes our testimony. For Peter, what he did after looked that much more amazing for the fact that he failed right at the climactic moment.
For us, we will fall and for those who are watching—our neighbours, our colleagues and our families—it is important for them to see us pick ourselves up. It is important for us to be open about our flaws and give glory to the God who saves us from them. It is important for us to show humility and admit when we are wrong and ask forgiveness from those we have wronged. It is important for us to model Christ’s love and patience even when—especially when—we have stuffed up. It is so contrary to everything the world preaches—selfishness, pride and power—that those who look on, those who witness our behaviour and watch us following Christ, cannot help but say: “You HAVE been with Jesus.”
Jarrod Stackelroth is associate editor of Adventist Record.