'I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about'
Mark 14: 66-68: Peter was below in the courtyard. One of the high priest’s female servants came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. “You also were with Jesus, that Nazarene,” she said. But Peter said he had not been with him. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said. He went out to the entrance to the courtyard. (NIrV)
Today, I am supposed to be continuing with the next tip from the life of Boaz but this morning during my Quiet Time (QT) I was struck by Peter’s denial of Jesus and thought I would share that instead. I hope you can bear with me. I will continue our journey with Boaz next week, God willing.
It’s easy for us, 2000 years later, to look back at Peter’s denial of Jesus and say to ourselves ‘He should have done better’ or ‘We could have done better’. But this morning as I read this passage, I didn’t think about Peter denying the Son of God, I sat and thought about Peter denying his friend, the man, Jesus Christ. The man, he sat with, laughed with, cried with, prayed with, spoke to, and ate and drank with. It made me think about my own friendships and relationships.
I asked myself how many times have chosen not to defend or speak in favor of a friend in a difficult situation to save face amongst a crowd or someone in authority. That’s basically the story of Peter’s denial. It wasn’t just that he denied knowing of Jesus Christ as a person. But in his denial, Peter neglected and ignored their friendship. This friendship included the stories we know of such as the healing of his mother-in-law (Mark 1:30-31), the teachings like the Beatitudes (Matthew 5), and the miracles. It also included the times that aren’t recorded in the pages of the Gospels; the jokes they shared, the meals they ate, and everything in between in their three-year friendship.
It made me think about my friends, and ask myself, how many times have I abandoned a friend because it was no longer fashionable to be associated with them? Maybe they weren’t smart enough, hard-working enough, or simply put not cool enough. Or maybe in a work setting, I might have discussed an idea with a colleague and agreed with their position before sharing it with our manager. But then abandoned the colleague when it became apparent that our manager wasn’t happy with the idea.
We have words like ghosted these days to describe when we have suddenly cut off or gone cold on people. All too often, I think this behavior is because in that moment we forget about what the person has contributed to who we are and think only of ourselves and how we might look. We forget about the late-night calls, coffee chats, prayers, jokes, quick favors, borrowed money, lent clothes, and a whole host of other things our friends have done for us, all because of our pride and self-preservation. We overlook that this sort of forgetfulness in our relationships and at work, speaks to our integrity and witness of Christ.
So today, I would like to remind you about a friend whom you might have gone cold on or forgotten about. A friend who essentially hasn’t changed much from when you were extremely close to them. But your relationship might have changed simply because of what other people think of that person or because being associated with them may change other people’s perception of you. Could I gently suggest sending a message to that person?
Or maybe you have a work colleague who doesn’t trust you anymore because in a public meeting you ‘didn’t know or understand what they were talking about’ when you had both worked on an idea together. Perhaps, it might be time to acknowledge this abandonment and denial and like Peter repent and restore our broken relationships.