“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.“ (1 john 8: 1)
But, boy, are we good at deceiving ourselves. We are masters at deceiving ourselves.
“No, no, Jesus, I won’t deny you. Even if I have to die with you, I won’t deny you.”
Poor Peter honestly believes it, too.
Peter has been at Jesus’ side since the beginning. Bewildered at times, yes, but boldly proclaiming his Friend as his Savior again and again. Peter trusts Jesus enough to question him, “How can you wash my feet?” he asked. In the garden, as the soldiers came to arrest Him, Peter stood between him and the sword.
And then all that conviction, all the strength, all that integrity…crumbles.
While Jesus is inside testifying before the high priest, Peter stands warming himself by the fire, and then—not once, not twice, three times—denies even knowing his Savior.
We all deceive ourselves. We all deny Christ.
No, no, Jesus. I didn’t do anything wrong. I was just trying to be happy, and isn’t everybody entitled to be happy?
No, no, Jesus. She made me do it. It wasn’t my fault.
No, no, Jesus. I can’t help it. I was born this way.
A man told a story of this friend he called Nathan:
Nathan had a worked for the same small hospital supply company since graduating from high school. He started as a delivery guy, worked his way up to supply manager, and finally Chief Operating Officer. Nathan hated his job.
Nathan attended the same church in which he’d grown up. A child of the congregation, he was well known and well loved, but not well liked.
When the greeters at the front door said hello on a Sunday morning, sometimes Nathan responded. Sometimes he didn’t.
The last time he’d been asked to be a greeter, he’d responded to an elderly woman’s request for direction to the lady’s room with a smirk and an only half mumbled comment about bladder control. Nathan was never asked to be a greeter again.
Everyone—his friends, his family, his church—knew he was miserable. His parents had died young. He lived alone. He rarely dated. He rarely smiled. Did I mention that he hated his job? Yep.
Finally, one Sunday, the man—older and respected—was greeting. He welcomed Nathan at the front door, and Nathan grunted his response.
“Nathan,” he said, “We need to talk.”
The man handed off his remaining worship bulletins to the next greeter, and pulled Nathan into an unoccupied classroom.
“Nathan, you have a problem.”
Nathan, to his credit, didn’t argue.
“You hate your job.”
You hate your life.
Do you hate yourself?
Nathan only sat, for a moment, and then replied. “So what? There’s nothing I can do about it. A job’s a job, and this is my life. It’s as good as it’s going to get.”
And you think this is what God wants for you?
Nathan appeared genuinely perplexed.
“Jesus died so you can live, Nathan, and all you’re doing is dying.”
At this, Nathan became genuinely agitated. “Jesus? Jesus has nothing to do with this.”
We all deny Christ. The Lord of the Universe lived and died for us—for our work, our friendships, our homes, our homemaking, our marriages, and parenthood and old age. For nothing in this life is untouched by the love of Jesus Christ, but we say no.
No, no, Jesus. You’re for the pages of this old book, and not for the days of my life. No, no, no, Jesus. I don’t know You.
After Peter denies Jesus, he disappears.
He’s nowhere to be found as Jesus drags his own cross up the hill. He’s not at the foot of the cross with the women and the beloved disciple. He doesn’t participate in the preparation of Jesus’ body for burial. When the going gets tough, Peter gets going. Away, far away. He abandons his friend, his teacher, his master, his Lord.
Why? Fear? Doubt? Maybe he’s angry at God for not stepping in to stop the execution? Maybe he despairs at his powerlessness? Or maybe he’s filled with self-loathing at the thought of what he has done.
In ways great and small, we all deny Jesus. We fail to remember him. We fail to acknowledge him. Our prayers are seldom and weak. We walk around, believing, yes, in God—a sort of idea, a benevolent grandpa who bestows happiness on the good people—but not really believing in a Savior who wants to hear from us when we’re miserable at work. When we’ve got the promotion. When we’re lonely at home. When the one we love loves us back.
Jesus wants to be a part of all of our lives, no part untouched by his grace, but, eh, we’ve got a game and a house to clean and really we just don’t have time for all of this.
No, no, Jesus. I’d never deny you. I just don’t have time to pay attention to you. I’ll get around to You…when it’s convenient.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)
Even you. Even me. Even Peter.