Today's Reading - Mark 14
The 72 verses of this chapter are filled with stories about Jesus’s last few days on earth before his death. First, we have the story of a woman pouring perfume on Jesus’s head. This is followed by the story of the Last Supper. Then, Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him three times. Next is the account of Jesus praying at Gethsemane, after which He is arrested because of Judas’s betrayal. Jesus is then taken to the Sanhedrin, or the Jewish court. The chapter concludes with Peter’s multiple denials that he is a disciple of Jesus.
It is this final story on which I will focus. We may have never been in the same position as Peter, denying Jesus for fear of losing our physical life, but we may have been in the position where we deny Jesus for fear of losing our social life. Sometimes, it is easier to go along with the crowd, even when we know it goes against our beliefs, than to do the right thing and stand apart from the crowd.
I wish I could say I have a story where I stood firm in support of Jesus despite strong opposition from peers, but I do not. The story I do have is more of a combination of Peter’s and Paul’s. Although I attended Catholic school for a total of 13 years, taking Religion every year and regularly going to church, I would not have labeled myself a Christian during that time…hence how I denied Jesus as Peter does in this chapter. I resembled Paul during my high school and most of my college years because I “persecuted” my brother for being into the whole religious thing. He received Confirmation (I chose to watch my recording of Saturday Night Live from the night before during that time instead…I did say I used to be a super fan of the show in a previous post), attended youth group all throughout high school (I took advantage of that time to watch sports on TV), went on multiple retreats (I loved what I dubbed “only child weekends”), and lived in a religious-themed house his sophomore year of college (which I called the “Jesus House”).
I had my “road to Damascus” experience when I studied abroad seven years ago. I decided to attend a church recommended to me by a friend in the Christian organization at my undergraduate institution. It was my experiences at one of the Bible studies at this church that led me to convert to Christianity. From these experiences, I now understood what this Christian thing was all about. Since then, I have reaffirmed my faith, attended retreats, lived in a Christian-themed house, became an intern at a church, and volunteered to assist a youth group…all things (or variations of things) in the past I made fun of my brother for doing.
Since my conversion, I have not had an experience where I felt it was me against the world because of my Christian beliefs, but I know I have been judged for my faith. One experience in particular I still remember is when a former coworker, after I mentioned I regularly attend church, became more standoffish towards me. My guess is she assumed I was going to judge her for her life choices and that anything she told me from that point forward I would use against her (her assumptions could not be farther from the truth). The awkwardness this created was short-lived because she left that place of employment less than a month later, but the experience was not lost on me. It was the first time I felt “persecuted” for my faith. Up until then, since my conversion I tried to live in a “Christian cocoon” so as to avoid encounters of the sort. Deep down, maybe I was afraid I would be the Peter we find in Mark 14 when faced with that situation. Instead, I learned what it feels like to live according to 1 Peter 4.
Who are you: Mark 14’s Peter, the Christian described in 1 Peter 4, or someone else?
When faced with opposition because of your faith, how do you respond or react?
If you have ever denied Jesus, how did you feel afterwards?
Ok, put your Bible down and live this week like it was the last.
by Jennifer Giblin