Nope, not me… Don’t children quickly deny whenever mom or dad asks: Who broke the vase or who spilled the milk?
The disciples of Jesus were certainly experts at denials. At the last supper, when Jesus said one of them will betray him, they replied ‘Surely not me?’ (Matthew 26:20-25) After the meal, they went to the Mount of Olives. In vv.31-35, Matthew recorded another denial account.
20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”
23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
31 Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
Peter was the denial king among them. All other disciples mimicked what he said. He used Jesus’ words each time. Fall away on account of you? Never. Disown you? Never. He’s also good with ‘Even ifs.’ Even if all others do, I won’t. Even if I have to die with you, I won’t. Whoa, so sure of himself, isn’t he?! Lesson here is: Never say never. And do not complicate it with ‘Even if.’
I do not doubt that Peter firmly believed he would not when he said those ‘Nevers’ and ‘Even ifs’. Yet he did deny Jesus. Peter denied Jesus just as Jesus said he would. (Matt 26:69-75)
Are we not sometimes like Peter? Never will I do such a thing. I love God. I am Christian. I will never fall away. I will never disown Jesus. Even if… even if all other people do, I never will. Even if I have to give up my all, I will never disown Jesus. It is not bad to be sure of our loyalty to Jesus. Yet it is good to depend on the Lord as well. Beware of self-righteousness: even if others might, I won’t. Beware of self-sufficiency: even if I have to die, I won’t. Beware of pride!
Denying Jesus is more than saying ‘No, I do not know him.’ When I say I do not know him, it implies I am ashamed of him.. it might mean I do not want people to think I’m KJ (kill-joy) or too religious. Denying Jesus is not wanting (or being ashamed or afraid) to stand up for Him. I cannot count on myself to do that. I need God’s grace and mercy. Let me beware of saying ‘never’, of ‘even if’ and most of all, help me, Lord to always stand up for you. Amen.