Real self-denial

Reading: Matthew 26

69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him. ‘You also were with Jesus of Galilee,’ she said.

70 But he denied it before them all. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said.

71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant-girl saw him and said to the people there, ‘This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.’

72 He denied it again, with an oath: ‘I don’t know the man!’

73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, ‘Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.’

74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know the man!’

Immediately a cock crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: ‘Before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.

What is not a matter of course is that I’m all right here in spite of everything, that I can experience pleasures of one kind or another, and that with it all I keep my spirits up —and so I’m very thankful every day.

Prison letter to his parents, 9 November 1943

Thought from “The Cost of Discipleship”

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves." Just as in denying Christ Peter said, "I do not know the man" (Matt 26:74), so also should each disciple say this to himself or herself. Self-denial can never be defined as some profusion—be it ever so great — of individual acts of self-torment or asceticism. . . . Self-denial means knowing only Christ, and no longer oneself. It means seeing only Christ, who goes ahead of us, and no longer the path that is too difficult for us. Again, self-denial is saying only: He goes ahead of us; hold fast to him.