John 18:17-23

17 Then the slave-girl who kept the door *said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He *said, “I am not.” 18 Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself. 19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples, and about His teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. 21 Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said.” 22 When He had said this, one of the officers standing nearby struck Jesus, saying, “Is that the way You answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?”

I love how these two elements of the story are juxtaposed with one another.  We see Peter’s first denial of Jesus, a lie, and then it is followed up by the revelations of Jesus’ righteousness.  Not only did Peter deny his association with Jesus, but he tried to blend in with the officers, those who arrested Jesus.  Some may look at this as a strategic advantage, trying to sneak in unnoticed.  However, he was given preference by the priest because of John.  He had no need to hide his identity; he was John’s friend and was allowed in there.  There was no reason to hide other than his own fear.  Meanwhile, Jesus is standing up for truth and honesty in faith.

Later, Peter and Paul will write about this: being blameless.  In Philippians 2:14-16, Paul instructs, “14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear aslights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” Peter in 2 Peter 3:14-15 says, “ 14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you.”

Our actions as Christians should be beyond reproach because the world is watching.  Now, I know…we are all thinking “but I’m human and cannot be perfect.”  Certainly we are not always perfect in our actions.  However, we can still put ourselves in a place that satisfies even the utmost scrutiny.  This is the beauty we see here in Jesus’ example.  He ticked quite a few people off, yet what did He do wrong?  This is what Paul is referring to after explaining the fruit of the spirit and “against these things there is no law.”  Because He walked by the Spirit, He had nothing to be worried about.  In fact, He didn’t even have to defend Himself; this is why He didn’t.  He simply said, “if I did something wrong, tell me.”  It didn’t really matter if He defended Himself or not (even though He didn’t have to), because He was blameless.  Meanwhile, Peter is hiding for fear of being accused of something, the exact opposite action of Jesus.

I am discovering my constant defense and justification of my actions.  Whenever I “wrong” someone (particularly my wife) I am so quick to defend my actions.  Sometimes I defend myself as acting justly in response to outward stimuli.  Other times I find a reason as to why I act because of something inside me or from my past that has conditioned me to act this way.  Instead, I should simply act in a way that does not cause reproach or questioning.  This doesn’t mean I won’t be questioned, but rather if I hold myself accountable in this way, there will be no need to defend myself.

Do we act like Peter?  Do we deny the truth and try to blend in, acting like everyone else around us simply so we will not be questioned?  Do we act like Jesus, living by the Spirit so that when we are questioned, our history and actions are already there as our defense?

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