I was thirteen years old and in the 7th grade.
Huntington Jr. High was where I was studying. Somewhere in San Marino, CA. I’m sure you can find it on Google maps.
I used to ride a silver BMX bike to school. And sell novelty fold-up scissors to my classmates. I was already defined as the nerdy chinese kid. I would attempt to play basketball with some of the others but that was a exercise in humiliation. That same year a Jim Tolenai borrowed a dollar from me, promising to pay me back, but never did. When I was 13 it took me 20 minutes to run 1 mile.
And in class one day the teacher gave us an assignment. “Write an essay on evolution or creation. Be sure to cite your sources.”
I sat there and looked at the assignment. I’d been going to church since I was five, and I knew I believed in God. And as I looked at this assignment, I was faced with a bit of a quandary: Do I write about creationism? Or do I write about evolution?
In my heart I knew that I should write about creationism. I knew the teacher wasn’t going to condemn my beliefs. In fact, this was really just a writing exercise as opposed to a defence of what I believed. It’s not like this was Philosophy 101.
But as I stared down at the homework assignment, I thought that it’d be easier to find sources talking about evolution. And if I wanted to get a good grade, it would be a lot easier to find books about science than it would to find books about creation. I mean, would I seriously just cite the Bible? And so my mind took me down the path of wanting to get a good grade, writing a good essay, finding the easiest way to write this essay.
So, like every guilty party, I made excuses for myself. I attempted to explain to my friend why I would write about evolution. I said that it was easier. I said that it was just an assignment. I even said that I wanted to make sure I could explain the other perspective. And even as I wrote, I managed to convince myself that I wasn’t doing anything wrong – it was just one homework assignment.
And when I turned it in the next day, I realised just what I had done. I was Peter denying Jesus. And turning in that paper was the moment the rooster crowed. I had denied Jesus. I mean, not explicitly. But in my heart, I had sold my soul for something simpler. I had denied Christ for an easy way out.
And when I got my paper back with a big red A (a good mark), I couldn’t have felt worse. Like Judas who had traded Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, I had turned my back on Christ — for what? For this letter A. Which I probably would have still gotten if I had written about creationism.
I am Peter. I am Judas. I am the High Priest demanding answers from an arrested Christ. I am Pilate question the King. I am no less guilty than any of them.
And as I said sorry to Christ in my heart and told him what I fool I’d been, it was as if he said to me – “It’s ok, but don’t do it again. Remember who I am.”
Jesus is not some mythical figure, some good teacher from the days of yore.
If you know Him, if you have heard Him, if you have seen Him, you know – you know that He is Lord.
John 10:14 ” “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me”
And so we pray –
Let me deny you no longer. Instead, let me confess you to the world. Let me declare you majesty to my neighbour, to the nations. Thank you for your love and forgiveness, which takes a broken peter like myself, and restores him with your love. So then, let me love your sheep, as you have loved me.
in your name, Jesus,
These were some thoughts from our current series The Remarkable Life of Jesus and our Strong and Courageous Life in Him. The message about the Betrayal & Crucifixion of Christ from John 18-19 is available here and all our previous messages are available on the Sunday messages page. You can also download a Study on the same passage.