The Art of Denying Jesus

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Peter weeps

“Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly.”

Matthew 26:75, NLT

Three denials are followed by three reaffirmations.

A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”

John 21:17

The apostle Peter was a fervent disciple. He knew who Jesus was before most. He was always included in special times (e.g. the transfiguration, Gethsemane). He was favored by Jesus throughout times of ministry. I also believe that he was Jesus’ friend. Peter is known for:

  • being called on the shores of Galilee, Matt 4:18-19
  • ‘almost’ walking on water, Matt 14:29-30
  • finding the tax money in a fishes mouth, Matt 17:24-27
  • having his feet washed, John 13:6-7
  • in Gethsemane– cutting off an ear, John 18:10-11
  • his remorse at denying Jesus, Matt 26:75
  • at the empty tomb with John, John 20:3-8

Peter’s own denials were of a serious nature effecting who he was, and who he was to become. Jesus astutely intervenes as they ‘breakfasted’on the seashore. There would be three affirmations; one for each denial. Peter needed to meet the resurrected Jesus, and speak with him about what he had done. Peter needed this.

Out of our own confusion, we realize that we deny Jesus. Perhaps frequently. A denial has different intensities and different situations. And none of us have an immunity as of yet. We deny the Lord when we refuse to speak of him to others. We deny the Lord when we fail to do what is right. Sometimes we deny him flagrantly, other times it is a more subtle attitude. At best, we’re still inconsistent, and at worst, apostate.

We’re not punished or abandoned for this behavior. Human logic would suggest that we should be. But instead we are gently restored. Given the opportunity, Peter the fisherman, would eventually become a wise shepherd to the young Church. I would also suggest that Peter’s personal weakness would serve him well as a gentle, and caring pastor.

Peter, near the end of his life, goes ‘full circle’ and uses a very precise Greek word found in only two places in the New Testament. It is the specific form of the word “shepherd.” It is only used in John 21:16-17 in Peter’s restoration, and in 1 Peter 5:2. Peter encourages the Church with the same words Jesus himself spoke to him on the beach so long ago! Peter wrote:

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing.”

1 Peter 5:2, NIV

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They Are Bread for Us! [Challenges]

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Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” 10 Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.”

Numbers 14:9-10

Exactly, how do we see our challenges? During the time of Moses and Joshua, and when the land of Canaan [still out there] had yet to be conquered, was still waiting, this happened. But there were many [most] who wanted out. In their limited experience, they saw some serious problems– disaster, becoming a slaughter. They were terrified.

An attempt to stall this insurgency, a few speak up. They call it what it is– rebellion. The people [enmass] begin to organize. More a mob than a crowd, things get nasty. Moses stands up, and speaks loud enough to be heard. [He is not a public speaker.] And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”

Many times we have to choose. The decision to follow Him is almost always dangerous. It requires daring ideas, and is against much of we label common sense. People will always speak doubtful things, and we find little support for our faith to launch out.

Bread is there to build us up. It is good food that might strengthen us. It becomes the metaphor for strength that increases. I grew up with “Popeye” eating spinach out of a can. He found lots of energy, with amazing new abilities. [It almost persuaded me to eat it.] The enemies in the land may seem to be formidable, and without the presence of God they were.

But we are really strengthened by our foes. That which did not weaken us, but only made us stronger. What is bread? Why it is “the staff of life.” In 1 Corinthians 16:9, “There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.”

Victory is never easy. It would be easy if it is always found in a can of spinach. But it is not. It is exclusive to the “presence” of God. Our foes will only fortify us. And that’s a promise for you.

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My Comfort Food

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Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless.
Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. Psalm 10:17

Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me. Psalm 23:4

You will restore me to even greater honor
and comfort me once again. Psalm 71:21

When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. Psalm 94:19

Now let your unfailing love comfort me,
just as you promised me, your servant. Psalm 119:76

My eyes are straining to see your promises come true.
When will you comfort me? Psalm 119:82

These are the verses that speak of a Psalms comfort,

  • comfort sought
  • comfort given
  • comfort strengthening

Undoubtedly we have a God who comforts His people. That is his favorite thing to do, it is like the “special of the house.” He cooks up five-star entrees, and these all meet us on a seriously high level.

“Comfort food is traditionally eaten food (which often provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the person eating it), or simply provides the consumer an easy-to-digest meal, soft in consistency, and rich in calories, nutrients, or both. The nostalgic element most comfort food has, may be specific to either the individual or a specific culture. Many comfort foods are flavorful; some may also be easily prepared.” From Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_food.

My comfort foods are Wisconsin based and farm fresh.  Favorites are pan fried blue-gill, 0r perch, and fried potatoes. Honey glazed carrots, and homemade white bread, with real butter and jam. Whole milk straight from our cow, and cream two inches thick from a gallon jug. Very sharp Colby cheese with hot homemade apple pie, with an open lattice crust. And coffee, of course, with cream.

These dishes comfort me on some basic level, and I’m sure you have one or more favorites. Simple, but satisfying dishes made by a loved one. They are far more than mere calories, they provide things greater than you can see. “Mom’s home cooking” plain with no pretense.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.
    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8

God feeds us comfort food.  A true easiness and calm, imparted by Grace to our hearts. The Holy Spirit has a title on His desk– “The Comforter.” Why is He called that? Because that is what He specializes in and masters. He is our dear sufficiency and satisfaction, freely set on our tables.

Don’t just look– eat up (just like mom insisted we do)!

3 “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.”

–1 Corinthians 1:3-7, NLT

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