“The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him.”
Many years ago a friend of mine was the Rector of a church in an area that was caught up in the national violence and political unrest. There was a great stand-off between the young people of the area and the police. For a considerable time it seemed that the people would charge the police lines, resulting in bloodshed and the possibility of civil war. He was trapped with his family within his house and not allowed outside. I asked him afterwards what would have made a difference to them. His reply was that, although he knew that the local clergy and Christians were praying for them and the whole situation, it would have made an enormous difference to have had one of his brother clergy with them during that time.
Jesus had been arrested and was waiting in the courtyard of the house of the high priest for His trial and trials to begin. If ever a friend would have made a difference – in standing with Him, supporting Him and praying with Him – this would have been such a time. Peter indeed had followed Him and was also around but, when challenged, he denied any association with Jesus, and then departed to weep over his weakness outside. Jesus was left alone.
All around us there are people who are battling their way through life locked in loneliness, fear and hopelessness. Some of them may have done terrible things and be facing their own trials and their consequences. Others may be anticipating financial or relational disaster and humiliation. Still others may be battling with weaknesses and inadequacies. Many are depressed and unappreciated. Some may just be lonely and alone. We ourselves may be so caught up in our own personal problems that we don’t see these others or even want to see them. The crowds remain full of lonely people.
Being a friend and having a friend can be wonderful and great fun. It can also be both challenging and demanding. ‘Fair weather’ friends are fairly common. Friends who will stand by us when we need them, and when public opinion is against us, are less common but far more valuable. There will be times when someone needs us to be a good friend and to stick with them.
And then there is still Jesus sitting and watching as much of the world around Him does terrible things and mocks and rejects Him. Where do I stand in His courtyard today?
What sort of a friend am I – and have I been?
‘What a friend I have in Jesus.’ Lord please help me to be more of a friend to Him and to those He loves. Amen.