While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.
It’s amazing what will melt us. We like to think of ourselves as having everything together. Or that’s at least the outer shell we like to portray. We want people on the outside to look at us and say, “They certainly look good. They walk and live with confidence. They seem to have everything together.”
But then something happens and that hard shell starts to crack. And depending on who or what applies the pressure, the shell either opens just a bit or completely shatters.
I have a friend that, on the outside, looks like they have it all together. Nice looking family. Friendly. Outgoing. Happy. They recently admitted that they were scammed and lost ALL the money in their banking accounts. Did you hear what I said, ALL their money that was in a bank for protection.
I really don’t like to use the word devastated because it’s so overused. But in this case, they really were devastated. And all it took was this one event. There was talk about filing for bankruptcy.
Peter didn’t lose all his money in the bank, but he certainly showed just how shallow he was. Whatever courage he had just melted in the face of a young servant girl reveals the lack of depth he had towards Jesus.
His excuse comes quickly and without thinking. He says an immediate “no” to her words. He tops off his denial with a sour cherry on top. He’s just too stupid to understand what the girl’s saying. He can’t figure her out.
Having nothing more intelligent to say, Peter walks away. He was hoping that he could just disappear into the darkness. He wanted nothing more than to avoid anyone else that might be able to identify him. There’s an old expression, “Any port in a storm.” And Peter certainly heads for that place of safety.
Remember, he’s a big, burly fisherman. He threw nets into the water and then hauled them up filled with fish. And here’s this little whisper of not just a girl, but a servant girl. She wasn’t someone to be feared yet she brought his world crashing down. She had no power or authority, and yet her words frightened Peter to the point of denial and disappearance.
What makes you afraid? What motivates you to get up and get out? What are you most afraid of? What secrets are you hiding that, if they got out, would make you act just like Peter?
Whatever it is, I bet it has to do with the loss of something.
Loss of money, job, and affluence.
Loss of power, prominence, position, and influence.
Loss of family and friends.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, has that hard shell that’s just waiting to be cracked. And all it takes is pressure. A little pressure might just make a small crack that no one would hear or see. More pressure might make a hairline crack that runs a little bit. More pressure and the crack gets wider and longer. More pressure and the shell might just explode.
In this pressure cooker world we live in, we’re all looking for comfort, relief, release. We want to drop our guard and just relax. Not needing to hide any longer.
This is exactly what Jesus offers. He’s not the demanding boss. A demanding parent. A demanding spouse. Or even a demanding friend. He’s oh so much more gentle.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Yes, there is a yoke that we put on when we follow Jesus. It’s not forced on us. It’s our choice to put it on. It’s a yoke that doesn’t force us, but it’s made soft by his loving kindness. And there is a burden that you carry when you follow Jesus. But it’s a burden that doesn’t crush. It’s made easier by his walking with us.
You can try and deny who Jesus is. But he’s the only answer to the pressures of this world. He the one who takes our burdens on himself. He alone is the one who makes it a life worth living.