For Lent one year I wrote a series of dramatic monologues featuring a scribe, a woman in the crowd, Pontius Pilate (the governor who had sentenced Jesus to death), and Simon Peter (one of Jesus’ closest disciples). Each reflected on the choices they had made concerning Jesus, what led to their choice, and what if anything they might have done differently.
If you’re facing some choices today (and who isn’t?), or struggling with choices you’ve made in the past, I hope that Peter’s reflection below will encourage you.
As a follower of Jesus, I thought I was different from the rest.
I wasn’t part of the religious establishment like the scribes, or a Roman puppet like Pilate, or just another face in the crowd calling for Jesus’ death.
No, I was a follower of Jesus, the one he called Peter, the Rock. I was a member of his innermost circle of disciples. I travelled with him everywhere, I was given the secret of the parables, I saw Jesus in his glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. I was part of all that, because, you see, I had made my choice.
When Jesus called me away from fishing the Sea of Galilee, I chose to follow him. When he said he was going to suffer, be killed, and rise again, I didn’t understand what he meant, but I still chose to be with him. When Jesus was arrested, I chose to follow him to the courtyard of the high priest. Ever since he had first chosen me, I had chosen to be with him.
I suppose that’s why I still feel sick every time I think of that courtyard scene. As I was sitting there waiting, one of the servant girls said to me, “You were with Jesus of Galilee.”
In a sudden panic I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I was horrified by those words of denial, but it was too late to take them back. And when I was confronted again and again, I could do nothing more than repeat them. Three times I denied knowing Jesus, and when it was all over, I could hardly bear the weight of what I had done.
I wasn’t any better than the scribes or the Romans or the crowd. Sure, I had chosen to follow Jesus, but when it looked as if knowing him might be dangerous, I had lost my nerve. I had chosen to deny him. I had chosen to stop following.
For the next three days, I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I just couldn’t forgive myself for being such a failure. Once I had said to Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” How could I have denied him? How could I have denied him?
It was only after Jesus’ resurrection that I learned to stop accusing myself. Through the love of Jesus, I discovered that God could forgive my terrible choices—as deep and painful as they were, God’s love and forgiveness could cover them all. And through the power of Jesus’ resurrection, I could learn to make new choices.
Scripture says, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” That means we don’t have to be stuck with yesterday’s wrong choices. I’d like to tell that to all of the scribes and to Pontius Pilate and to everyone in the crowd. Today is a new day with new choices to be made. Believe me, I know.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: What new choice will you make today?
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