After Jesus had been taken, Peter certainly went the distance to separate himself from Jesus. The third time he denied knowing Jesus, the Bible actually says he invoked a curse on himself. This often sounds dumb to us, as we imagine Peter wearing a witch hat and standing in front of a big boiling cauldron of green goo and smoke, calling up curses from the abyss. But curses are actually a very serious deal in the Bible, and also very common to deal with when it comes to kicking demons out of people. They are words that, when spoken into existence, carry a certain kind of spiritual power, often because they’re co-opted by demonic forces.
For example, once during a deliverance session, I asked the demon how it got in and it mentioned the time the person had spoken negative words over themselves—what we call “a curse” in the world of exorcism. This curse was actually a trick on them. The demon seemed to have motivated these words to be spoken from the outside, and as soon as they were said aloud, the demon made an entrance inside them to reinforce those words. To get it out, we had to revoke the curse, replace it with the blessings of Jesus, and work through the memories it had attached itself to with inner healing and forgiveness. Once we had broken all of its rights, we were then able to remove it.
So what curse did Peter invoke? Was it backed up into an actual curse that carried spiritual weight or was it just empty words? Scholars have no idea and few even try to speculate. I don’t have an answer either, but I’ll throw out a proposal. Perhaps he said something to the tune of, “If I’m lying about what happened to that man, may the same thing be done to me!” For in John’s gospel, Jesus makes a rather in-depth and unexpected comment about the way in which Peter will die, which is historically reported to be on a cross.
The old children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me,” is just not true. The effects of a stick or stone are temporary. The curses that come from our words can follow us until they’re rebuked in the power of Christ and by the renewing of our minds.
*This devotional was created out of the themes of Matthew 26:69-75 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net. Below are the various AI-created pictures I typed into existence via Mid Journey to mock up artwork for today’s post.