Cross sculpture on campus



From Denial to Boldness

Lent 2022

Read John 18:15-26

15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man's disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?”

Peter boldly told Jesus, I will lay down my life for you (John 13:37). But now, pressed by various servants, Peter folds. Boldness turns to denial three times. While some may be quick to judge Peter, it isn't a stretch for us to summon compassion and understanding. Fear and the instinct for self-preservation can easily unravel all of us. Most of us will never experience the sort of threat the disciples felt on that night and in the coming days. Even without such a threat, we easily allow fear and self-preservation to shrink our boldness to speak of Jesus. There is an incongruence in our lips and lives that will, at one moment, worship and praise Jesus, only to turn around and deny him by our sinful disobedience.

Consider, in contrast, Jesus' boldness on trial. He doesn't speak much, but when he does there is no effort for self-preservation. He says, “I have spoken openly to the world.” Jesus has always spoken with truth for the sake of the world. He speaks and takes action so that sinners may receive forgiveness through the redeeming work he was about to endure, giving up his own life on the cross.

Historical tradition tells us that Peter eventually did lay down his life in martyrdom for Jesus. Before that happened, Jesus fulfilled his promise to send the Holy Spirit (John 15 and 16) who would speak with Jesus' authority to guide his people in all truth. The Spirit empowered them and made them bold witnesses.

To this day followers in many corners of the world face serious persecution yet remain bold and steadfast in their faith by the same cross-purchased grace and the ongoing sustaining work of the Holy Spirit. Brothers and sisters in Christ, what great news it is to be reminded that we too are recipients of the same grace and the same Holy Spirit!

Prayer: Holy Spirit, guide me in all truth and make me bold in faith to confidently testify to all that Jesus has done in redeeming me and the world. Help me to continue to follow my Lord and Savior in all circumstances. Amen.

Holy Week Icons

President Dr. Michael Thomas guides us through three important religious images that will enhance your experience of Holy Week.

Walk With Us

Sign up to receive daily devotions from Ash Wednesday through Easter directly to your email.
Your email address will be used for no other purposes than these Lenten devotions.

Back to top