Fear, Shame and Denial

How many sermons and bible studies have called us out on denying that we know Jesus? Yet heaping shame upon our denial only serves to keep us stuck and entrench us further. As we learn more about the impact which trauma or the threat of a traumatic experience has upon our body, including our brain, we learn that denial is an autonomic response to a traumatic event. Let's shift the focus here to wonder. What might it have been like for Peter to witness 200-600 armed Roman soldiers come to arrest Jesus? Can we stay with Peter by the fire and offer compassion to a brave disciple who is grappling with his fear? What comfort might he need from Jesus now?

John 18:12-18 (NLT)
So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up. 13 First they took him to Annas, since he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had told the other Jewish leaders, “It’s better that one man should die for the people.”
15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. 16 Peter had to stay outside the gate. Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in. 17 The woman asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?”
“No,” he said, “I am not.”
18 Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

What feelings – either comfortable or uncomfortable - are rising up in you as you listen to this story? Where do you feel what you feel? Refrain from judging the feeling and gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus. Listen for how he meets you in these feelings.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God’s compassion for you.

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Still on our way to the garden with Jesus, we overhear a few more intimate words between him and his closest friends. In four short verses, Jesus offers clues as to how to stay alert and awake to his presence after his physical death and resurrection. Jesus will rise from the dead and be truly present to us in all things and at all times.

Peter, who simply did not know his own self, humanly holds up the mirror for us to see our own denials. Denial takes us out of reality and keeps us from knowing the presence of Christ before us. Yet it is Christ who tenderly and compassionately gives us the courage and supernatural power we need to move out our own places of denial and disassociation. He leads us into reality and truth and warmly welcomes us to meet him there.

Mark 14:27-31 (NLT)
On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”
Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” 
“No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, a phrase, or an image that stood out to you as you listened? Consider staying with it awhile and see if the Spirit has more to share with you.

Have you ever had an experience where you felt like you denied Jesus? Or have you ever felt you had to “scatter” from Jesus due to a difficult situation or truth?  If so, have you ever talked with Him about it? Feel free to do so.

Consider the word “deserted” as you sit with Jesus. How is He “meeting you there” in that?

Where have you noticed Jesus going before you? How have you met him there?