Our “cross-examination” in today’s text personalizes the dilemma of Simon Peter in the courtyard of Caiphas. “Am I one of them?”
Folks warming their hands around the fire notice the Big Fisherman. They think he looks familiar. They start asking questions.
“This man was with Him,” says the servant girl. “You also are one of them,” says another. Still another asserts: “Certainly this fellow was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”
In fulfillment of Jesus’ warning to him that very night, Peter denies three times that he even knows Jesus. He is ashamed, scared to be associated with the name of Jesus.
It brings to mind what we pray: “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” I cannot pray this petition without a finger pointing back at me, accusing, indicting and convicting me for all the days I have dishonored my Father’s name, blushed in embarrassment to mention Christ’s name. I think of all the times other names have meant more to me than the name of Christ, when the approval of my family or fishing buddies or classmates have mattered more to me than Christ’s approval.
Then, there are the foolish sins of my youth, the orneriness of my old age, all of the hatred and lust and greed, all of the rash judgments and cowardly compromises of Christ’s truth in all the years between, all of the kindnesses I never carried out, the prayers I never prayed, the sermons I did not care to hear, the Scriptures I felt no need to read.
Still, I pray that God’s name be kept holy, that His truth be honored by me and others. I remember how Luther explained it: ‘God’s name is kept holy when His word is taught in its truth and purity, and we as children of God lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But whoever teaches or lives contrary to God’s word dishonors God’s name among us. Keep us from doing this, dear Father in heaven!’ ”
We have been given Christ’s own name in our baptism, adopted into His family, honored to bear His gospel – His name – before a watching world, to belong to His people. It is for each one of us the greatest honor we can have – to say: “I AM one of them, one of His!”