Gene’s Daily Scriptural Postings. Reflective Bible Study.

The Death of Ego: Mark 14:66-72

Listen to this episode and/or subscribe on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com...Year in Mark – Episode 41: As Jesus is facing trial, Peter is warming his hands nearby at a fire, and while Jesus is getting ready to face death on the cross, Peter denies Jesus, failing his promise, which leads to another, subtle death that we may end up facing in our own lives over 2,000 years later. Read the transcript: A couple of podcast episodes ago, we looked at Jesus warning Peter about his upcoming denial and Peter strongly refuting this as a possibility. However, in our last episode, we saw how Jesus’ prediction came true regarding all the disciples abandoning Jesus, and in this episode, we turn our attention onto Peter, and how he fulfilled a prediction he did not want to fulfill. As you may have already guessed, we will be focusing in on Peter’s time in the courtyard while Jesus is being tried and condemned to death. Let’s read about what happened, and discover some things we can learn about this event. Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 14, and we will read it from the New American Standard Bible. Before starting to read in verse 66, it is worth noting that a few verses earlier, specifically in verse 54, Mark tells us that Peter followed behind the mob at a distance and ultimately made his way into the courtyard outside of where Jesus was on trial. Starting in verse 66, Mark tells us that: 66 As Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Nazarene.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” And he went out onto the porch. 69 The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, “This is one of them!” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.” 71 But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!” 72 Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And he began to weep. In this short, seven-verse passage, we see Peter fulfill the prediction that he did not want to fulfill. In these verses, Peter denied Jesus the three times Jesus had predicted. However, the third denial stood out to me as I read it this time. Mark describes Peter’s third denial in verse 71 saying, “But he began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about!’” This third denial stands out in my mind because it kind of sounds like Peter is saying he has no idea who Jesus is. However, the only way Peter’s denial makes sense is if he had ignored every news story over the past two years prior to this, especially through the news channels in Galilee, which is where Jesus spent a lot of His time. News about Jesus had even reached Greece, since earlier that week, some Greeks had traveled to Jerusalem to see Jesus. In my own mind, a much more plausible denial for Peter would have been one that acknowledged that he knew about Jesus, but that he had simply been too busy to pay much attention to him. However, reading about Peter’s denial in Mark’s gospel, where some scholars believe Mark wrote this gospel from Peter’s perspective, it is interesting to not see anything written or recorded about Peter’s redemption. In contrast, John’s gospel both includes Peter’s denial of Jesus, and a challenging conversation Jesus has with Peter following Jesus’ resurrection that ends with a second invitation to follow Jesus. One possible explanation is that Mark’s gospel has a very abrupt ending. Depending on the manuscripts and research that has happened, there are two possible endings for Mark’s gospel, but both are a little suspect for a number of reasons. This is why many Bibles today will include a longer and shorter conclusion to Mark’s gospel. However, there is evidence to suggest that neither of these endings is really the original ending of Mark’s gospel. One theory is that the real ending to Mark’s gospel was lost very early on, and some well meaning scholars in the early centuries after the New Testament wrote an ending to help Mark’s gospel have a good conclusion similar to Matthew, Luke, and John. I am not a scholar, and I don’t have enough information or evidence to weigh in on these claims and theories, but I can say that each theory sounds reasonable. However, I find it powerful that at the close of this passage, as the rooster crows and Peter remembers Jesus’ prediction, it breaks Peter’s heart and Peter begins to weep. Mark describes Peter’s big failure and how Peter, while confidently asserting that he would never deny Jesus, ultimately denies Jesus just like Jesus had predicted would happen. However, this failure marks a death in Peter that is only clear in hindsight. While Jesus faced the cross and physical death, Peter’s death was a death of self and a death of ego. After his big failure, Peter had no room to brag about how good of a disciple he was. Prior to this, Peter had the reputation for being the star disciple in Jesus’ inner circle of followers. Everything is set for Peter to be Jesus’ right hand man ahead of the remaining disciples, using terms from our human perspective. However, after Peter had failed Jesus in a bigger way than any of the other disciples – even after Jesus had warned and predicted that it would happen, Peter’s self-sufficient character breaks and dies, and he has no room to boast or brag about his accomplishments. Instead, from this point forward, Peter becomes humble and teachable, and when given the opportunity to be re-invited by Jesus, Peter steps up and accepts the invitation, proclaiming what Jesus has done for Him as someone who failed Jesus. In our own lives, we can give up when we fail, or we can let the failure redefine who we are. When we fail God, we should let our ego die with our failure and step back up proclaiming an amazing God who forgives our sins and who accepts us back when we don’t deserve it. Peter’s gospel message and experience is similar to all of our experiences: While we fail God, God isn’t willing to give up on us! As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with: As I regularly challenge you to do, continue seeking God first in your life and choose to proclaim what He has done for us – especially what He has done when we don’t deserve it. While we have failed God more times than we may be willing to admit, He is willing to accept us back when we let our egos die with our failure. When repenting and asking for forgiveness, remember what Jesus did for us and let Jesus’ life and His sacrifice change our hearts and minds and let God’s truth transform our lives. Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each and every day. Choose to spend time praying and studying to grow personally closer to God and to fall in love with Him like He has fallen in love with you. Discover in the pages of the Bible, a God who gives up everything for you and me, even when we have failed Him and don’t deserve forgiveness! And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or ignore where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him! Listen to this episode and/or subscribe on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com...

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