Wednesday of Holy Week
John 13:31-38 New Living Translation (NLT)
31 As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. 32 And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will give his own glory to the Son, and he will do so at once. 33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
36 Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?”
And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.”
37 “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.”
38 Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.
The story goes on to tell us that Peter, James and Philip went with Jesus to Gethsemane. Their hearts ached with grief, they sat together while Jesus went to pray on his own.
They watched for a while wanting to support him, to show their dedication, love and faithfulness but they were exhausted, and sleep took over.
After praying Jesus returned to the disciples and found them sleeping. He woke Peter and asked him why couldn’t he have stayed awake for just one hour. “I needed you, but you let me down”. This happened three times.
Jesus’ heart was opened, and he was crying to God in prayer, and Peter slept in the midst of Jesus’ heartache. Peter was the one who first recognized Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus said that the church would be built upon Peter because of his faith, and now not even Peter could walk these last steps with Jesus.
You may remember that later when Judas arrived, Jesus welcomed him with the words “Friend, do what you have come to do”. Judas kissed him and soldiers led Jesus away.
The disciples scattered and Peter, the one who declared his faithfulness, even to the point of death, followed at a distance and he stayed in the courtyard outside of the house of Caiaphas.
In many ways it was there that his friendship and his faithfulness were tested.
Three separate people asked him if he knew Jesus and three times Peter denied even knowing Jesus. Peter’s friendship and faithfulness held on a little longer than the rest of the disciples but even Peter failed his master. When Peter realized this he broke down and wept bitterly
In many ways the story of Peter is our story, humanity’s story. It is a story of good intentions, of faithfulness, of care and support. It is also a story about fear and how fear can change even the best of intentions.
Peter was afraid, fear caused him to do things he didn’t want to do. Fear stopped him from doing the things he did want to do. Fear can have an impact on our actions and on our relationships. So today, in the midst of physical isolation, when fear can find its way into our home and into our hearts, how do we protect ourselves from allowing fear to have a negative impact on our actions and relationships?
There are ways to diminish fear.
On one of our coffee conversations on Zoom, one person said that prayer has had such a positive impact; praying for others helps to strengthen her trust in God. It is something she can do to help others, to pray for them. Prayer makes a difference in our lives and in the world. Another person talked about how important routine has been in her life, not letting fear take over and enabling her to take one step and then another. We also think of first responders and medical staff who face their own personal fear as they care for those who are fighting the Covid virus.
We know from John’s Gospel that Jesus gave Peter another chance to declare his love to Jesus. When Peter responds with his love for Jesus, he discovers that love and grace are greater than fear. Love conquers fear. Love and second, third and fourth chances are gifts that we can offer to one another.
God, may the strength of your Love help to conquer my fear and may I lay my fear before you.