The Easter season is upon us. Lent starts in two days. I grew up Catholic and attended Catholic schools. Easter is late this year on April 21st. Growing up, we always observed Lenten practices. The first day of Lent marks the 40 days before Jesus died on the cross. It starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on the Thursday, before Easter Sunday. Jesus was crucified and died on the cross on the Friday before Easter. All Christians celebrate Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. It can be also be called Resurrection Sunday. Growing up, part of observing Lent meant giving something up, not eating meat on Fridays and fasting between meals. The purpose of giving something up during Lent is to remember when Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the dessert and praying to God.
I now attend a church that is Evangelical. To be Evangelical, you have to believe that the bible is God’s holy word and that Jesus died on the cross to forgive us of our sins, Jesus was buried in a tomb for 3 days and then rose from the grave and ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of our father. On Easter Sunday, we greet each other proclaiming, “He is Risen!”
This morning I opened the bible to the time before Jesus was crucified on the cross, after the Last Supper. After Jesus was arrested, one his disciples, Peter, denied that he knew Jesus three times. At their last supper together, Jesus knew that Peter would betray him and deny him three times, before the rooster crowed. Jesus told Peter of how he would betray him, and Peter said that he would never deny Jesus.
After Jesus was arrested, the guards led him away and took him to the house of the high priest. Peter followed behind them at a distance. While he waited in the courtyard, someone lit a fire and the people sat down around the fire. Peter sat down with them. A girl looked at him and remarked that Peter was with Jesus. Peter denied it. A little later, someone else looked at Peter and said that he was one of them that was with Jesus. Peter denied it again. After an hour passed, another person remarked that Peter must be one of them that was with Jesus, since he was Galilean. For the third time, Peter denied knowing Jesus. The rooster crowed, and Peter realized what he had done. Peter remembered Jesus’s words, “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” Peter went outside the courtyard and wept bitterly.
Peter Disowns Jesus
Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”
But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
–Luke 22:54-62 (NIV)
One of Jesus’s beloved apostles denied knowing Jesus. Not once, not twice, but three times. This makes me stop and think, do I deny Jesus? When I am with friends that do not believe in Jesus, do I deny knowing Jesus? When I try to fit in or just want to blend into a crowd without any uneasiness, do I deny Jesus? I wish I could say that I would never deny Jesus. Growing up, I would give up things to remember what Jesus had done. Now, I go to church and sings the praises of the Lord. What do I do when I leave church on Sundays? Would I stand up and proclaim that I believe in Jesus, surrounded by friends and neighbors that do not believe? Why not? Would I think they would laugh at me? Talk about me being my back? Think I was crazy? Judge and list all my sins? Would it just be too uncomfortable for me to do?
About a year ago, I remember going out to dinner with my mom, husband and two kids. My son, then 7 years old, asked if we could pray before dinner. I didn’t know what to say. We never prayed in public growing up, so I said that he could say a prayer to himself. After I spoke these words, the table next to us, of about ten people, bowed their heads and prayed together. Ouch. I did what Peter did! After seeing them, I looked at my husband, turned to my son and said yes, that is a good idea, lets say the prayer before dinner. Do you ever just want to blend in and not stand out? As a Christian, I have to always be a Christian, even when it may require me to be brave. Jesus died on the cross for us, at least I can acknowledge him. He was not comfortable, he was tortured and brutally crucified on the cross to forgive me of my sins. It can’t be too hard to acknowledge that I know Jesus and praise his holy name.