HOLY WEEK REFLECTIONS - THOUGHTFUL WEDNESDAY
Of all the disciples, Peter was one of the three closest to Jesus – a personal friend not just a follower; he was a man of strong conviction and was the first to declare that Jesus was the Messiah. Peter was also the one who got out of the boat and walked on the water, as well as defending Jesus at his arrest by attacking one of the guards with a sword. Peter’s impulsiveness was both his strength and his weakness – he lived out his beliefs with passion but had his moments when he came up short. How we can all relate to that!
It seems Jesus knew Peter better than Peter realised, as having declared his loyalty to Jesus, Peter is told by Jesus that he would disown his master three times! Jesus has been telling his disciples that he is going away and they cannot come with him yet. Although Jesus has been with them for a while, the disciples were slow to fully grasp his teaching and had still much to learn and understand about Jesus’ values. However, now Jesus gives his followers a new commandment before he leaves them – ‘Love one another.’
Love, of course, is central to much of the Old Testament – the Israelites were commanded to love their neighbours as themselves, but it is now the mode of this love, the depth and type of love – ‘Love one another in the same way as I have loved you.’ The real proof of following Jesus is now seen, not just in words of assent, but in copying what he did. Looking at Jesus’ life, the disciples are to copy his love for people which eventually cost Jesus his life. Love is all about the other person – it overflows into service which is the sign of the Christian community and it will often be costly in time and effort.
Peter, having listened to Jesus, is adamant that he is willing even to die for Jesus but Jesus brings Peter to his senses quickly, by telling him that he will disown his Lord three times. How human is Peter in his impulsiveness in his response to Jesus’ words and how lovely is Jesus’ attitude to him? Love and betrayal, glory and denial, so closely together in God’s purposes. It is worth remembering that, while most of Jesus’ disciples disappeared after his arrest, Peter was willing to stay close and follow Jesus, even though when challenged, Peter denied any contact with Jesus. Peter followed because he was a loyal friend of Jesus but was confused at what was going on; there was a mixture of fear, panic and concern for his life that led to his denial. When the cock crowed three times, reminding Peter of the broken promises, it was a turning point in Peter’s life – forgiveness was close at hand and this disciple discovered a deeper love for Jesus.
***ANNOUNCEMENT! We are delighted to be able to reopen St Paul's church for in person services - in time for Easter! For details of our events and services during Holy Week, check out our Services at St Paul's and Church At Home Pages.****