Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about!" As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus the Nazarean." Again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man!" A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away." At that he began to curse and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: "Before the cock crows you will deny me three times." He went out and began to weep bitterly.
(This post is part of a Lenten series on praying the Stations of the Cross - a devotional practice that is said to have started with Mary after the death and resurrection of Jesus. To start at the beginning, see the overview provided on March 5, 2023, and then go from there!)
Fear can lead us astray. Peter was focused here on avoiding pain and death – an understandable reaction under the circumstances. But his rational fear kept him from seeing the full picture, and it kept him from following Jesus (the safest person in this situation) wholeheartedly. He was more focused on short-term avoidance of pain than on long-term connection with God.
It can be challenging to stay with people in their time of weakness and struggle, and perhaps this was another part of the difficulty for Peter here. He couldn’t rescue Jesus, and just staying present to a suffering friend (without being able to fix the problem at hand) was really uncomfortable. So he lied and ran. He failed the test of friendship. Amazingly, there is no sign of shaming by Jesus in this moment, and we know that Peter was later offered full reconciliation and restoration by Jesus (John 21).
I’m curious about the women in this scene – the truth-tellers. What led them to call Peter out as being with Jesus? Perhaps they were more free to name the truth because their gender kept them outside of the power structure – there wasn’t much for them to lose in the situation? Perhaps they were more oriented to relationship, connection, & open communication than the men in the scene? Or perhaps they were just more curious?
A note about mindfulness
Mindfulness helps to create a bit of observational distance from our instinctive emotional reactions (like fear) so that we can see more clearly. We practice feeling our emotions without resistance, while at the same time pausing our auto-pilot reactions to them. Then we can respond to the circumstance with more intentionality, keeping our behavior in alignment with our values no matter what we are feeling emotionally in the moment.
(For a list of mindfulness practices that help practice healthy observational distance from your emotions as you pray the Stations of the Cross, check out the Guides for Practice available here.)
I am Irene Kraegel. I am licensed as a clinical psychologist and teach mindfulness on a faith-based university campus. I practice mindfulness because it opens me up to God (a.k.a. brings joy). I am writing here in hopes of sharing some of my experiences and thoughts related to the practice of mindfulness in the life of a Christian. Thanks for reading!
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