When Jesus predicted Peter's denial, Peter replied, as recorded in Mark 14:31, "If I must die with you, I will not deny you." The same verse tells us that all his disciples said the same thing. They were firmly convinced that they would stick with Jesus, no matter what. Peter was emphatic. He said that even if everyone else fell away, he alone would stand firm with Jesus.
Fast forward to the scene in the courtyard of the high priest as Jesus is being condemned, spit on and beaten. Peter, confronted by a servant girl, denies the man he vehemently claimed he would never deny. In his third denial he even invokes a curse on himself and begins to swear. He denies Jesus even more vehemently than he claimed he would stand by Him.
Why does he deny Jesus? To fulfill Jesus' words? Because he's afraid? Because he doesn't want to suffer? Because he knows he will be beaten and spat upon, too? To claim to know Jesus in that moment is to risk the same indignities and pain being inflicted on his friend, teacher, Lord. He protects himself instead.
The question this morning...how often do I deny Jesus? How often do I protect myself and choose comfort or "peace" instead of standing with my Lord to receive the blows? Whom do I fear? People or God?
I am working my way through Proverbs as well and the last verse I read this morning said:
The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,A connection?
and humility comes before honor. Proverbs 15:33
In that moment, Peter feared even a little servant girl and what she could do to him more than he feared Jesus. As he was being beaten, Jesus seemed weak and ineffective. Fear him? Be loyal to him? Risk the humility of being associated with him?
I get it backwards - wanting honor and recognition not humility, the good opinion of others more than the instruction in true wisdom that the proverb says is the fear of the Lord.
I should be weeping like Peter.