40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers (Week Five: Friday)

Friday

Confession: Psalm 107:10–15

Those who sat in darkness and gloom,

prisoners of misery and iron—

because they rebelled against the words of God

and spurned the counsel of the Most High,

he therefore humbled their heart with trouble.

They stumbled and there was no helper.

Then they called to Yahweh for help in their trouble;

he saved them from their distresses.

He brought them out of darkness and gloom,

and tore off their bonds.

Let them give thanks to Yahweh for his loyal love

and his wonderful deeds for the children of humankind,

for he shatters the doors of bronze,

and cuts through the bars of iron.

Reading: Mark 14:66–72

And while Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the female slaves of the high priest came up. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked intently at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean!” And he went out into the gateway, and a rooster crowed. And the female slave, when she saw him, began to say again to the bystanders, “This man is one of them!” But he denied it again. And after a little while, again the bystanders began to say to Peter, “You really are one of them, because you also are a Galilean, and your accent shows it!” And he began to curse and to swear with an oath, “I do not know this man whom you are talking about!” And immediately a rooster crowed for the second time. And Peter remembered the statement, how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times,” and throwing himself down, he began to weep.

Reflection

We recognize in the apostle two acts of will: the one, by which he willed not to die, a thing wholly free from blame; the other, by which he delighted to be a Christian, which was highly praiseworthy. In what then was the apostle blameworthy? Was it in that he preferred to lie rather than to die? Plainly this act of will was deserving of blame, for he willed to preserve the life of the body rather than that of the soul.…

He sinned, therefore, and not without the consent of his own will, which was feeble indeed and wretched, but certainly free. He did not sin by rejecting or hating Christ, but by loving himself too much. Nor did that sudden fear of death forcefully compel his will to this perverse self-love, but it proved it to exist. He was, without doubt, already such a man as this, but he knew it not—even though he heard Christ, from whom the truth could not be hidden, say: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times” (Matt 26:34 nrsv). That weakness of will—which was revealed, but not caused. It was by fear inspired. And it made known the extent to which he loved himself, and the extent to which he loved Christ. It was made known however, not to Christ, but to Peter.

—Bernard of Clairvaux

Concerning Grace and Free Will

Response

Do you love yourself—your comfort, your safety, your reputation—more than you love Christ? Are you defensive when challenged about these things, or are you repentant like Peter?[1]

 

[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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