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by Elaine Pierce
Today's passage will be familiar to most of us: Peter denies Jesus three times, right after he cut off the high priest servant's right ear in defiance of those who came to arrest Jesus. Yes, Peter was inconsistent and erratic, to put it mildly. But what I found interesting when I read this passage today was the contrast between Peter's denials and Jesus' conversation/interrogation with the high priest. It is sandwiched in between Peter's first denial and his last two. Let's take a look.
What motivates Peter to deny that he is a follower of Jesus? What is he afraid of? What was the driving factor in Annas, the high priest's, questioning of Jesus? What is he afraid of? It seems to me that Peter is afraid of rejection and judgment, and he was probably also afraid of physical harm (after all, he did just strike an official's servant). Annas, on the other hand, must have been afraid of losing his power under the hand of the Roman Empire. If the people turned against him, he would lose his political power.
But look at how Jesus responds to the hostile questions he receives:
"I spoke openly to the world....I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said...[then he says this AFTER the servant hits him] If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me? " (vs. 20-21, 23)
Jesus does not need to defend his ministry. He knows that what he has said and done was what his Father asked him to do. He advises the high priest to talk to those who have heard him speak. Jesus, unlike Peter and Annas - and, let's be honest, often like you and me - was not motivated by fear.
There are over 300 variations of the command to 'fear not' in scripture. Let me leave you with one that I would encourage you to memorize. Our God is with us, even in moments that are frightening and terrifying. He longs for you to rest in his assurance that, in the end, all will be well. Jesus knew that the Cross was coming, and yet, he was faithful to his Father. May it be so for us.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” (Psalm 46:1-3)
Spoken Prayer – Out loud, pray for God to speak to you through your reading. Praise God for giving us His word. Ask the Spirit to help you read with faith, and to live out what you hear from God through the passage.