He denied it, “Not me.” – John 18
My husband and I have been together since I was 17 years old and he was 18 years old. We were very young and most of the time pretty stupid when it came to communication. I remember that when he would do something that made me angry (probably most of the time he didn’t even know what it was) I would not know what to do with my feelings. In my head the most logical thing to do was offer him my silence. I would deny him my voice while offering him lots of anger through my facial expressions. There was a palpable tension in the air you could cut with a knife. This is something that I found on Pinterest today on denial by silent treatment:
I know for a fact that denying someone your voice is painful because there were times when my husband reciprocated that to me. If I was hurt by that simple denial of a person I loved – that means that I hurt that person the same when I did the denial.
In our story today we read about Peter denying Jesus three times. We also see what is happening to Jesus during this time. Jesus is being interrogated and he is being slapped by the Policeman. He’s trying to defend himself even though he knows that there is nothing that will change the outcome. He is experiencing the barrage of questions while also the painful physical violence begins.
Annas interrogated Jesus regarding his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered, “I’ve spoken openly in public. I’ve taught regularly in meeting places and the Temple, where the Jews all come together. Everything has been out in the open. I’ve said nothing in secret. So why are you treating me like a conspirator? Question those who have been listening to me. They know well what I have said. My teachings have all been aboveboard.”
When he said this, one of the policemen standing there slapped Jesus across the face, saying, “How dare you speak to the Chief Priest like that!”
During church on Palm Sunday, our pastor was talking about how Jesus lived with compassion and non-violence. That got me thinking about this part of the story of John. Even though he is being treated himself with disrespect and violence, he doesn’t resort to any of that himself. He continues to only speak truth and doesn’t fight back physically.
Jesus replied, “If I’ve said something wrong, prove it. But if I’ve spoken the plain truth, why this slapping around?”
Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to the Chief Priest Caiaphas.
This is when we see Peter’s struggles. Jesus knew that Peter would deny knowing him. Jesus knew he would be experiencing pain at the time his closest friend would be denying him.
Meanwhile, Simon Peter was back at the fire, still trying to get warm. The others there said to him, “Aren’t you one of his disciples?”
He denied it, “Not me.”
One of the Chief Priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?”
Again, Peter denied it. Just then the rooster crowed.
The disciples were the people that spent the most time with Jesus. They were like members of his family. They were close. They lived together, shared meals together, and travelled together. They did everything together. And still Peter couldn’t control his denial of knowing Jesus at the moment when Jesus needed him the most.
But we know from this story how great Jesus love is. He offers up grace when we least deserved it. He knew Peter would deny him – yet that didn’t change anything about his love and the time they spent together before that denial. It didn’t change the way he loved Peter after the denial either.
Jesus begins to suffer. Really suffer during this time. He had to fight for his name and listen to those who hated him. He also suffers violence. His physical pain will become more than obvious over these stories. We need to learn that violence is not the answer we need. It isn’t okay to inflict punishment. Jesus shows us that in the face of violence he doesn’t retaliate with violence of his own.
Jesus forgives and offers grace in the face of denial. There will be so many times in our lives when we will be denied or when we will be the one to deny. We need to remember Jesus example of grace and love when dealing with relationships of those closest to us during these times.
Every relationship has it’s ups and downs. My husband and I are not alone in miscommunication or denials. But Jesus is here today to show us exactly how to love others. We are human. We won’t always make the best choices. We might hurt those closest to us. We might be hurt by those closest to us. Jesus knows this hurt just like we do and yet he still sacrificed himself on the cross for all of us. He suffered the piercing of the nails through his hands and feet for us.
That is true love.