“I am not.”

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“I am not.” 

John 18:17 (New Living Translation)

17 The woman asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?” “I am not.”

“I am not the one who was with Him.” Just like that Peter denied Jesus 3 times. As the rooster crow tears began to flow from Peter’s eyes. Peter had been so sure. “I would never deny Him. None of the disciples did anything when they tried to arrest. Well at least I did, at least I cut off one of the soldiers ears. At least I followed Him through His trial. At least I am better than the rest. At least, I ….”

Peter felt it. Condemnation. “Peter, you denied him when he needed you most. You of all people. You!” Even the fact of the resurrection could not lift Peter from his pit of condemnation. Peter went back to fishing. After the feeding of the 5,000. After walking on water. After driving out demons. After Jesus rose from the dead. Fishing!

That, my friend, is what guilt does to you. You will say to yourself. “I am not. I am not good enough. I am not right man for the job. I am not.” I find this story even more ironic when John, in this same chapter, mentioned 3 times the words, “I AM he”. Jesus said “I AM he!”

Let me produce the passage for you, ““Who are you looking for?” he asked. “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied. “I AM he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) As Jesus said “I AM he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?” And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” “I told you that I AM he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” John 18:4-8

Dear friends, note that Jesus said “I am the one. Let these others go.” Jesus said “I am he” so that you are set free! You are ALREADY set free. What I find amazing is this. Peter denied Jesus after he said already said “I am he” and not before. In other words, Peter continued to feel fear and condemnation after Jesus said “I am he”. After Jesus took responsibility. After Jesus took the blame. After.

So many of us are like Peter. We feel condemned despite Jesus was condemned for us. We judged ourselves despite Jesus being judged for us. We want to punish ourselves for our guilt despite knowing Jesus was punished for us. Dear friends, Jesus became for us everything we are not in God so that we can be everything God meant for us to be. You my dear friend has been set free from guilt and shame. 

Jesus said this so that you can say “I am the righteousness of Christ. I am the light and salt of the earth. I am the child of the living God.” Paul says “I am crucified with Christ; it is no I who lived but Christ who lives in me!” “I am”.

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