Denial: The Ultimate Indifference

Peter denies his Lord

Scripture reference: Mark 14:53-54, 66-72

Peter's denial of his Lord

“The Denial of St Peter” c. 1610 Oil on canvas, by Caravaggio

First I’d like you to help sing a song, and then I’m going to tell you about Peter and his light.

Who knows a song that starts with the words “This little light…”? Can you help me sing it?

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, (2x)
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel, NO! I’m gonna let it shine, (2x)
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine, (2x)
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

It was very dark and it was very late at night in the city of Jerusalem. But no-one was asleep at the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. They were waiting … waiting … There he came, our Jesus, tied up between two soldiers. That’s who they were waiting for – Jesus! “AT LAST,” said the rulers of the Pharisees. “Now we’ve got him! Now we can get rid of him!” And they rubbed their hands together, and they took Jesus upstairs. Then they spit on Jesus and blindfolded Jesus and hit him.

Where were Jesus’ disciples? Didn’t Peter say he would always, always stay with Jesus, no matter what? Maybe they all ran away when the soldiers tied up Jesus in the garden….

But, wait, there was Peter, hiding in the yard. Peter ran away , all right, but he came back because he loved Jesus. Peter followed the solders, all the way to the house of the high priest. Peter could see Jesus upstairs. But Peter was so afraid. He didn’t want anyone to know he was one of Jesus’ helpers! What if they caught him, too, and tied him up just like Jesus, and spit on him, and hit him? Peter was so scared that he hid his love for Jesus, and he kept his love for Jesus a secret. Peter hid his light three times in a row.

There was a fire burning in the yard, and the night was cold, so Peter went to warm his hands by the fire. A servant girl looked at Peter’s face and said,

“Weren’t you with that man Jesus?”

Peter’s heart pounded. He was terrified. “No, no, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And Peter’s light flickered for the first time.

A little later, another servant girl said, “I’m sure this man is one of Jesus’ disciples.” Again Peter lied. “NO I don’t know him.” And Peter’s light flickered for the second time.

Once more, one of the men looked at Peter’s face and said, “You must be one of Jesus’ disciples. You talk just like one of them. And… didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” That’s when Peter’s face became pale and Peter began to curse and swear again:”I DON”T KNOW what you’re talking about.” And Peter’s light flickered for the third time that night.

Then Peter looked up. He saw Jesus looking at him very sadly, and Peter ran away into the darkness, crying, because he had lied about the Jesus he loved so much.

Listen to Denise Hewitt’s version of “This Little Light of Mine.”

If you’re partial to Odetta’s rendition…

Jesus’ Resurrection

The Wrong Place to Look

Scripture reference: Luke 24:1-12; 24:5,6

tombThe day of Sabbath rest was over in Jerusalem. It was the start of a new week. The rosy sun was just beginning to push the darkness out of the night sky; the birds were fluffing their feathers and chirping their songs.

Mary Magdalene and the other women were up early, too, but they weren’t singing.

There was something they wanted to do for Jesus. On that terrible day at Golgotha they had watched Jesus die on the cross and they had cried and cried. The women had followed when Rabbi Joseph had taken Jesus’ body gently down from the cross and brought it to his own empty cave in the small garden. Rabbi Joseph had wrapped Jesus’ body in a soft white cloth and put him on a bed of sweet-smelling spices. So the women knew where to find the Master they loved so much. Mary Magdalene and her friends wanted to do something for Jesus, so they prepared more spices and sweet-smelling perfumes. They would bring them to the cave and cry together.

Everything was so sad, and so mixed up!

How could Jesus be dead? He’d promised them a kingdom; how could he be king of a kingdom, lying in a cave all wrapped up and covered with spices, with a guard of Roman soldiers standing in front of the big stone?

He’d promised them treasures in heaven; how could he give them anything when those greedy soldiers at the cross had taken away all his clothes?

He’d promised them that he would destroy God’s temple and raise it back up in three days; how could he fix the temple when the curtain had ripped into two pieces and he wasn’t even there to fix it?

He’d promised to set the prisoners free, but how could he? Nobody was even listening to him anymore!

He’d said he was king, but why did the soldiers spit on him and make fun of him, and give him a pretending crown? And why would he let that crook on the cross beside him say those awful things?

And what about that great parade into Jerusalem when the people threw their coats on the ground and made a beautiful carpet for Jesus to ride on, and waved palm branches and shouted: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”?

What happened to all the promises? Jesus was dead. All the promises were lost.

…..

But wait …. The most important promise of all – what was it?  “In three days I shall be raised again…” Had they forgotten?

Mary Magdalene and the women didn’t understand. All they could do was cry and go to the garden with the spices they had ready. “How are we going to roll away that big stone?” they worried. “Maybe we’re not strong enough to push it out of the slot….”

There was the cave: the soldiers were gone, and the big stone had been rolled away!!!

The women had forgotten! Into the cool, quiet rock space they tiptoed, carrying their spices, looking for the body of Jesus. There was the soft white cloth; there were the sweet-smelling spices; but where was Jesus?

Then suddenly, two shining angels! “Have you forgotten?” said one angel. “Have you forgotten Jesus’ promise? You’re looking for him in the wrong place: he is not here; he is not dead – he is alive, just as he said he would be! Come, and look!”

And the women came, and they looked.

And then they remembered Jesus’ promise – bigger than their small hearts and their small imaginations: big enough for YOU and for ME!

Jesus is not dead: HE IS RISEN! Hallelujah.

Jesus comforts his disciples and promises to return

The Promise Peppermints

Scripture reference: John 14:1-4 

[You will need to have available two peppermints]

peppermintsToday I’m going to tell you about Jeremy. Jeremy was three years old, and he was going to nursery school for the first time! He was so excited! He was even wearing a new sweatshirt just for the special day! He gulped his orange juice and hurried through his bowl of cereal. He zipped up his brand new backpack and jumped into the van behind his mom. Off they went. Jeremy’s mother parked the van in the parking lot and unbuckled Jeremy’s seat belt.

In they went. Jeremy’s mother helped him hang up his jacket, on a special hanger just for him. But … Jeremy’s mom wasn’t taking off her jacket. And, what was she saying? “See you later” ?? Jeremy didn’t understand this one bit. And he didn’t like it! “But, Mommy, I want you here. Stay here! I’m scared if you go away and leave me. You never leave me! I don’t want you to go away!” He plopped on the floor, as sad as sad.

Then Jeremy’s mom sat right down on the floor beside Jeremy. She gave him a big hug to make him feel better. Then she said, “Don’t be sad. It won’t be for long. I have work to do, so I have to go away now, but I’ll come back to take you home with me. I promise! And she reached into her pocket, and out came two peppermints. “Jeremy,” she said, “Look. These are for you. Promise peppermints.” She put one peppermint in Jeremy’s hand and said, “I promise.” She put the second peppermint in Jeremy’s other hand and said again, “I promise.” Then she got up, blew Jeremy a kiss with a smile, and off she went, out the door, away from Jeremy.

Jeremy was still a little sad, but he went to the toy corner anyway, holding his two peppermints. He sat down on the rug and watched the other kids. After a while he looked at the promise peppermints in his hand. He popped one into his mouth and whispered, “Mommy promised.” Then he rode around on the toy tractor until he started to feel sad again, and squished down in the toy corner. After a while he looked at the second promise peppermint in his hand. He popped it into his mouth and whispered, “Mommy promised.” Then he made a very big fort out of blocks  —–

Before he could get sad again, there was his mother to take him home.

And when Jeremy got bigger and heard about Jesus going away from his disciples to get ready for heaven, he remembered the promise peppermints and understood Jesus’ promise: “Don’t be sad; I will come back to take you home. I promise.”