Marching through Luke’s Gospel in my morning reading, I got stopped cold in my tracks this morning. It happened about 5am as I read Luke 22:54-62 in the English Standard Version…
54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
4 things occurred after I read these verses …
* I felt that I was supposed to count the number of times the words Peter, this man, him, he or I are mentioned — when referring to Peter either by others or by Peter referring to himself. I get 22. That seemed liked a whole lot and it troubled me.
* Next I felt I was supposed to insert my own name (Don) in the place of Peter, this man, him, he or I and then read it out loud. That seemed kind of stupid and maybe a meaningless passing thought. But I told the Lord I was trying to be present, listening for his voice, and so I did it anyway. It wasn’t stupid. Just the opposite. It was quite sobering. Whew was it sobering! Try it for yourself.
* That brought back the memory of an old chorus we Jesus followers sang 30 years ago and even now occasionally sing. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” The chorus has this haunting line: “… Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Read those verses for yourself, and you tell me the answer.
* Then I felt led to immediately stop and to pray what I usually pray each morning: “Lord Jesus, I have sinned against you in thought, word and deed by what I have done and by what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart. I have not loved my neighbor as myself. I am truly sorry and I humbly repent. For the sake of your son Jesus Christ have mercy on me and forgive me, that I may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name.”
So how often do you think we Jesus followers need to confess our sins, to really own them — openly, forthrightly and without excuses?