Good Friday 2017 from Passion of John. Peter and his part.
27Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.
Oh Peter, Peter the Rock, Peter the Hope, Peter the passionate. What a few days he has had. What a time all the disciples have had and yet the mystery of the Cross and his own behaviour has caused him to act foolishly, nay worse than that, to betray his Lord at the first challenge. Has he been so fickle? He did not intend to betray his Lord, the Messiah, well at this moment he still hopes he was the Messiah even if it all seems to have gone horribly wrong. But was Jesus really surprised at all, in fact why did he seem to accept it like a lamb led to the slaughter, he knew so much, he loved so much. And Peter, let's listen in... well once a dumb fisherman always a dumb fisherman, if this carries on wrongly it is back to the water. I can get something right.
But this recent time. What to make of it. Great welcome into Jerusalem, a climax to these recent years but then the atmosphere turns. Our own people and the priesthood seem to fear the loving power of Jesus. We left Jerusalem again yet gathered in the Upper Room. He made us look at our rituals in a new way, setting a pattern of memorial for the future, as a focal point, so he knew far more than we did. And then the humility of washing our dusty filthy feet. Our identity as ordinary people was worthy of his attention. I should have washed my feet first as believe you me some of that dirt of my feet is ingrained because whilst we often wash, they get dirty all the time. It's life. And I was stupid. I went over the top. Don't just wash my feet, cleanse all of me. Thinking now I know he has the power, had the power? No, somehow I still affirm he has the power, but then I missed the point. And all that talk of betrayal got Judas very agitated. Like me he gets really passionate but likes to control. This turn of events was not in our expectation. Judas even doubted everything, troubled indeed.
And it got worse, we went to watch and pray. He asked Abba Father if it is your will take the cup of suffering from me. I, in fact we, could not even properly stay awake and pray. Another let down.
Then the terrible scene of the arrest. Just why did Judas seem to be so involved? And I attacked Malchus, cut off his ear, yet I was rebuked. ‘Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me. Again that mystery. That cup again. The cup of suffering he called it.
And now, I cannot stay away, I cannot flee but I have denied him three times and that cock crowed. All just as he said it would be. I have betrayed him. For the rest of my life I will hear cocks crowing in the morning and I shall remember I betrayed my Lord.
So much more has happened since. I cannot begin to describe the horror of the way they treated Jesus. As no better than a criminal. This was blood lust. A scapegoat for those satraps who are gaining from the Roman regime. Dying on the cross is humiliating yet even in this last time he was in charge of destiny. His presence was undeniable. He was loving even to that thief alongside. And what did I do or the other disciples. We did not abandon but nor could we save him. What was it he said towards the end when he talked of the Son of Man? Even so must the Son of Man be lifted up as a serpent in the wilderness. How can this horror be known in advance.
And the nails, those large nails through his feet and hands to increase the agony.
I am off to gather with the other disciples. Somehow I need to calm their fears, be the leader he wanted me to be. Word has come that Judas has hanged himself, troubled because he betrayed Jesus by pointing him out. They offered him silver for a job well done and that was his limit. Jesus loved him whatever just now happened.
I wonder if this time will be recorded in history. How people will see the real Jesus we had with us. Whether we can keep people longing to live the Kingdom of God amongst us. Have we any part to play. Will I be written off as a fool or is there still greatness I can perform in His Name. Will he be remembered as The Good Shepherd or by the sign of this Cross. The Cross somehow will be seen as a symbol of love, don't ask me now but I know that this it is all too powerful. God Almighty is not defeated by this day. The Cross will terrify many who hide in the shadows. It will comfort many who yearn for God. It will be hard to handle if this savagery of the death of Jesus is the only understanding of the Cross. Some wonderful people will struggle with this Cross as image but God's love will bear them up. The Cross is ultimate love.
Will I betray Jesus again? Surely not, but how will I get the chance. All I can do, all we can do is take heed of all he taught, there was more to come because he told us how we would remember him in fellowship. How will it come? Right now it is unsure but what would Jesus do? He would watch and pray. We must watch and pray. And trust that God will reveal more and that we will be bold enough to accept.
The Cross today is not an end at all, it feels like a new beginning and I am called, just as he first called me years ago. Let the Cock Crow. I will watch and pray and go forward in faith. Will you be with me on this path? There is more to come. Trust me, I am a disciple of Jesus, Son of Man, Messiah? One from God. Amen