By Jim Faughn
The scene is familiar to most of us. It is one of many sad scenes that are connected to the crucifixion of our Lord.
According to Matthew 26:69, Peter was “…sitting outside in the court-yard…” while Jesus was being put on trial. That phrase, put on trial, is used very loosely. If the term “kangaroo court” had been invented at that time, it would most assuredly have qualified.
We probably remember how a servant girl recognized and identified Peter. We also remember and are saddened to read how the one who had earlier proclaimed Jesus to be “…the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16) now was denying that he was ever with Jesus. Further, he denied that he even knew Jesus (cf. Matt. 26:70-72).
Most of us probably remember that the girl informed Peter that he was being betrayed by his speech. We are informed by those who know the Greek language that she could have been talking about his dialect or his accent.
At this point, Peter “upped the ante” and began to curse and swear. Those words may not be used in exactly the same way in which we use them when we talk about somebody cursing and/or swearing. We usually use those words to describe the language of somebody who is “talking dirty.” There is evidence to support the idea that Peter was suggesting that he should be under a curse if he was not telling the truth and was swearing as one might do in court-room.
Even though that could be the case, let us not miss the point that Peter was using his language to try to deny that he knew Jesus. I’m wondering if the same thing is not being done by some today who claim to believe that Jesus is “…the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
When I curse and swear in the sense in which those words are used in our current day, could I inadvertently be denying that I know Jesus? When those around me hear a steady string of expletives and/or euphemisms (words like gosh, golly, jeez, darn, etc.), do they get the idea that I really know Jesus and am doing my best to serve Him? When they see things that we post or tweet and see those not-so-cute little expressions like omg and others that will not be used here, am I denying that I know Jesus? Again, when I “share” or “retweet” something that may be innocent enough, but comes from a source that has one of those words in it, what am I saying about my allegiance to Christ?
I realize that I’ve raised a lot of questions. Maybe it is time to state something I know for a fact. The One from whom Peter was trying to distance himself by his speech said:
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned (Matt 12:35-37).
- Jim Faughn, a retired preacher, serves as an elder for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org