To Tell the Truth: The story of the Servant Girl who confronts Peter

Every woman has a story and every woman’s story matters to God!

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The principle of social location is one of the most important constructs of the New Testament gospel writings. If we permit this principle to “operate” on us, as we encounter these gospel narratives, we will soon discover who we are in these stories.. This is the beginning of permitting Scripture to convict and change us, through the power of the Holy Spirit – the divine breath of God. We move across form (*trans.for.ma.tion) and behold, we become new creatures in Christ Jesus.

*definition of transformation – a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance. To cross form for change.

This, however, cannot happen if we do not want to change; if we insist upon holding on to old behaviors and habits; if we decide we can and will lie to ourselves and others; refusing to confront the attitudes and emotions which keep us tied up, tangled up, bound up, and stuck in the muck and mire of dysfunction and toxicity.

Transformation, as we know, is not easy. While we often desire change, healing, and deliverance; there is pain and struggle involved in this process. This is why we often reject the very thing that would make ALL THE DIFFERENCE in our lives. We cannot be transformed without confronting the truth,  because truth and transformation are inextricably connected. We cannot cross form until we confront the form we are in. Authentic change requires determination, honesty, desire, and courage. It also may require those who will confront us with the truth we so desperately need to hear; but, we are avoiding. When we become open to the possibility of change and transformation, we understand and live out what the Bible teaches us: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

And now, THE WORD from Our Sponsor………………………………………………………………..

Mark 14: 66-72; Matthew 26:69-75; Luke 23:54-62; John 18:15-18

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

The story that we will examine is set in Passion Week, immediately before (or after) the mock trial of Jesus. This story is recorded in all four of the gospel accounts; an uncommon occurrence of agreement in the biographies of Jesus. In order to understand the entirety of the story, it is necessary to read the foreshadowing of Jesus’ words to Peter (Luke 22: 31-34). Before Jesus tells Peter he will deny Him, Jesus speaks of “once you have turned back.” Jesus is telling Peter he must repent; but, ironically, Peter dismisses Jesus’ words, insisting upon his steadfast faithfulness. It is only after a confrontation with a stranger, a servant girl, we witness Peter “weeping bitterly.” Her confrontation forces his acknowledgement and acceptance of the truth. Peter must then face himself and the guilt and shame he carries because of his denial of Jesus.

WHO ARE WE IN THE STORY? (PETER)

It is difficult for us to admit we are Peter in the story. No one wants to admit to lying or denial; but honestly, we often play “footsie” with the truth. We minimize our involvement in presenting falsehoods to ourselves and others. We often refuse to see lying and denial for what they really are in our lives.

In his classic book, “People of a Lie,” M. Scott Peck writes: “The central defect of the will is not the sin; but, the refusal to acknowledge it.” This is classic denial. We simply refuse to be truthful with ourselves because we are not ready to, or we do not want to face the truth. Peter was not ready to hear the truth from Jesus, so he literally denied it: “Even though all become deserters, I will not.” (Mark 14:29) At this point in Peter’s life, he seemed to believe what he was saying to Jesus; but, he was lying to Jesus and to himself.

“The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behavior lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behavior.” M. Scott Peck

Peter would not accept the responsibility for his behavior. It was too painful for him to admit to, so he continued to denied the truth.

WHO ARE WE IN THE STORY (The Servant Girl)

Who was this young servant girl who courageously confronted Peter’s denial of the truth? Scholars surmise she was either a domestic servant or a slave of the High Priest. Jesus (in the book of Mark) was with the highest ranking Jewish officials being questioned for his blasphemous behaviors, as the Jewish officials interpreted them. As Jesus was retained, Peter was following along at a distance. When the servant girl sees Peter warming himself, she stares at him and says: “You also were with Jesus – the man from Nazareth.” Peter denies (lies) about his relationship to Jesus to the girl; but, she persists.

We have no other information about her background, nor do we know or understand her motives. Her confrontational style was bold and obvious. Yet, this was a lowly female servant/slave confronting/accusing a man of lying right to her face. This is a man who has the advantage of social status over her. The obvious gender/social status disparity sharpens the contrast between Peter’s self-serving lies and the servant girl’s truth telling observations. Her direct confrontational approach and refusal to back down forces Peter to acknowledge the truth. She figuratively holds up a mirror to Peter and compels him to look at himself. Whether she realized it or not, she was the catalyst for Peter’s transformation because the acknowledgement of his sin against Jesus begins with her.

She cared enough to risk rejection and possible harm to confront Peter’s lies and denial. (Peter had recently cut off the ear of the centurion). She teaches us that often times we are on assignment, by God, to “get to the truth.” When Peter weeps bitterly, it is because he can no longer deny what he has done. This may not have happened without her confrontation.

While she is overlooked by scholars, preachers, and teachers of Scripture, she is as important to the story, as Peter, because without her involvement, Peter may have never experienced the breakthrough which leads him to his transformation to a great apostle of Christ.

WHAT CONFRONTATION DOES FOR US

Whether we are the confronter or the confronted, the action of “standing in front of with defiance,” is often necessary to discover the truth. Jesus confronted injustice wherever He encountered it. He forced his opponents to face the truth. The honesty of the servant girl who compelled Peter to face the truth teaches us to do the same. When we engage in this process, albeit painful, we will experience the spiritual growth necessary to move across an old form to a new way of life with ourselves and with others. Peter is the proof of this. The man whose shadow healed the sick; the man who became a principal Apostle; the man who followed Jesus and boldly carried on His ministry to establish the early Church; would not have been possible without facing his truth. Ultimately, the story of the servant girl and Peter shows us that we must face ours too, if we are to grow and achieve the destiny which God has for us in the Kingdom.

Questions for our consideration and discussion:

Considering the status of the servant girl and the context in which she lived, where do you think her boldness came from?

Who do you relate more to in the story, Peter or the servant girl?  Explain?

While denial and lying are two sides of the same coin, what is the difference (if any) between the two?  Explain.

FINAL CONSIDERATIONS

“To thine ownself be true.” William Shakespeare

“We all have a dark side. Most of us go through life avoiding direct confrontation with that aspect of ourselves, which I call the shadow self. There’s a reason why. It carries a great deal of energy. – Lorraine Toussaint

“Honest is the best policy; the only way out is deeper in; a candid confrontation with existence is dizzying, liberating.  (Anonymous)

OUR SENDING PRAYER

I thank and praise You, Lord,
for saving me from disaster.
I cried out, “Help me, dear Jesus;
I’m frightened and have lost my way.”
You came to me in the darkness;
You breathed life into my bones.
You plucked me from the abyss;
You healed me and made me whole.

You rescued me from despair;
You turned my lament into dancing.
You lifted me up; you took off my mourning, and clothed me with joy.

Therefore, my soul blesses Him
with every breath I take.
My song will thank Jesus forever,
and my silence will be filled with His praise.

Amen!

“The enclosed materials are the property of Maxine E. Garrett and Tabitha’s Daughters Bible Empowerment Series.  They may be used by you with our permission, which may be revoked at any time.  All copies of these materials must include the following notice:  “This material is Copyright [2015] Maxine E. Garrett and Tabitha’s Daughters, and is distributed with permission.”

 

 

 

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