Teetering on the Edge of Night
By JANICE SIX
Peter waivers on the edge of night, attempting to remain anonymous as he awaits the verdict of the high priests. The very thing he vowed he would never do, he does. Pushed over the edge by a couple of observant servant-girls who remember seeing him talking to Jesus, Peter is called out. Shouting curses and swearing an oath Peter declares, “I do not know the man!” He lies not once, twice, but three times, just as Jesus had predicted. At that moment, the cock crows, and the edge of night gives way, draping itself around Peter’s prideful frame like a pall. Shrouded in guilt, his shoulders slump as he realizes what he has done and Peter weeps bitter tears. Peter, “The Rock,” crumbles.
But Peter isn’t the only one to fall: Chief Priests and Pharisees, nudged over the edge by jealousy; political leaders and soldiers, shoved over the edge by a craving for power and prestige. Even the apostles, Son of Man’s best friends, will cower in the shadows behind boulders and be pushed over the edge by fear, and still there will be others.
Only a few days earlier, people waving palm branches and paving the way with their garments lined the road as Jesus made his way to Jerusalem. Soon, some will tumble head over heels off the edge as their cheers turn to sneers. Like a pack of blood-thirsty dogs on the prowl, those who turn on Jesus will be heard barking, “Crucify! Crucify! Crucify!”
Who among us hasn’t teetered on the edge of night, inching our way along the thin line that separates good from evil? Smudging and blurring the line, our footprints appear in shades of gray, giving us away. Teetering on the thin line between good and evil, the stakes are high that we will stumble, resulting in a free-fall over the edge of night.
What threatens to push you over the edge? Maybe your weak spot is the temptation of resignation. It’s easy to give up and roll over but the danger is rolling right off the edge. What temptations are so alluring that you blindly follow them right to the edge? Is it the temptation of power, approval, or control? Do you have an appetite for intrigue, thrive on drama, crave juicy gossip? Here on the edge of night we recognize in ourselves the same frailties, temptations, and vulnerabilities of those first called to be Jesus’s disciples and so we humbly pray: Merciful God, please catch us when we fall. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Janice Six is associate pastor of First Central Presbyterian Church (USA)