[#pictureLent] March 30: DENY

12 Feb 24 Think-01.jpg

By Rev. Lee Yates    
Managing Editor, InsideOut Curriculum
Covina, CA

First, read John 18:25-27

There is a thin line between lie and deny. Peter’s first denial is really a lie to allow him access to the courtyard of the High Priest, were Jesus had been taken. The next two are covering the first lie.

Peter is crowded around a fire with others who are supposed to be there, while he is simply trying to be near the action. 

Does he think he can rescue Jesus? Does he simply want to know what is happening? Whatever his motivation is – whatever his excuse is, Peter finds himself denying that he is one of Jesus’ disciples. It starts with a lie for a noble cause, then one lie covers the next till the rooster crows. 

I imagine Peter hearing the crow, like an alarm going off in his head. 
I imagine Peter arguing with the bird, and with Jesus words: “I didn’t deny him! I’m just trying to stay close!” 
I imagine Peter arguing with himself: “That’s not denial – I’m just following Jesus, right?” 
I imagine Peter wrestling with is own words, motivations, and the situational ethics before him. 

Peter is desperate to stay close to Jesus and does what is needed. He also lies and deceives. Jesus never asked him to come along. There is nothing Peter can do to change the outcome. Still, in Peter’s head, the whole thing probably made sense. 

A couple thousand years later we understand the dilemma. We still wrestle with the “spirit of the Law” vs the “letter of the Law.” We still find ourselves justifying our behaviors. Sometimes we second-guess ourselves. Other times we deny that we could be wrong. Complex internal arguments get woven to protect us from self-reflection- the roots of denial. 

Our brothers and sisters in recovery programs talk about taking a “fearless moral inventory.” I wonder how Peter would have felt about his choices if he had been honest with himself? I wonder how honest we are about our ethics? There is a thin line between lie and deny, and its even thinner when we lie to ourselves. 

Prayer: Lord, guide us as we navigate our own hearts and minds. Help us be true to our call while facing the complex world around us. Give us courage to stand firm, grace when we fall short, and wisdom to discern the space between. Amen. 

Discussion/Reflection Questions: 

1.     I wonder if Peter was completely wrong in telling a lie to stay close to Jesus? 
2.    How do we know when to bend the rules and when to draw a clear line?
3.    I wonder if you have ever been in denial about our own behavior or motivations?