Thursday, April 2, 2015

Daily Devotion for Lent 2015, Day 38

Daily Devotion for Lent

Thursday, April 2, 2015, Day 38

Mark 14:53-72 (NRSV)

Jesus had already put the High Priest on trial and found him guilty when he turned over the tables of the money changes in the Temple courtyard.  He had been putting the Pharisees and scribes on trial by flouting the cleanliness laws with whom he would eat. He healed the sick and exorcised demons but he sometimes did this on the Sabbath.  He instituted a new Way of forgiveness that bypassed the rites of animal sacrifice.

Now they would have their say.

Not surprisingly, they condemn Jesus to death.

Normally, the Jewish sentence for blasphemy was stoning.

However, they did not have the authority to kill anyone and so they must turn Jesus over to the Romans and try to convince them that this was a crime worthy of the death penalty.

It is here that Mark interjects the denial of Peter.

His thrice denial of Jesus in this moment of extreme tension reminds us that sometimes our faith is challenged when things aren't favorable.

"The Crucifixion of Saint Peter"
by Jose de Ribera
Many of the early church writings indicate that Peter died by crucifixion roughly thirty years later.  The Apocryphal "Acts of Peter" tell us that he was crucified upside down in chapter 37 but this source was likely written long after his death (possibly the second half of the 2nd century) and this detail of his martyrdom is more legendary than historically reliable.

His earlier denials may have actually strengthened his resolve.  I believe that Peter's life shows us that we can recover our integrity and learn from our mistakes.

The trick as Christians is not only to accept God's forgiveness for ourselves but to remember our own denials when others need our forgiveness.

As Civil Rights Activist and Baptist pastor and theologian Howard Thurman writes, “It is very easy to sit in judgement upon the behavior of others, but often difficult to realize that every judgement is a self-judgement.”

Prayer by Howard Thurman:

Lord, open unto me

Open unto me — light for my darkness.
Open unto me — courage for my fear.
Open unto me — hope for my despair.
Open unto me — peace for my turmoil.
Open unto me — joy for my sorrow.
Open unto me — strength for my weakness.
Open unto me — wisdom for my confession.
Open unto me — forgiveness for my sins.
Open unto me — love for my hates.
Open unto me — thy Self for my self.

Lord, Lord, open unto me!


Prayer by Howard Thurman, 20th Century

Picture by José de Ribera [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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