May 26, 2014
“But [Peter] said emphatically, ‘If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.” (Mk 14:31 ESV).
In the words of Peter, I see myself. I would have joined with the rest of them in making a bold commitment. In my struggle with temptation and sin I say, “I will not deny you.” And like Peter, I mean every word—when I say it. Yet to be honest, Peter’s commitment went deeper. In his passion for Christ, he was willing to die with Jesus. I long for that level of commitment. I’d like to say that I would do the same. But as the all too familiar story goes, Peter does not make it, and neither do I.
I deny Jesus as I cave to temptation—again. The struggle takes too much effort, redirecting my thoughts again and again to what is noble, right, and good. I react angrily to circumstances rather than holding my tongue in patience. I cower from people who may not like me or affirm my beliefs. It’s easier to ignore than engage.
Later in the Garden, Peter made a good show when he sliced off the ear of Malchus. But Jesus didn’t fight; in fact, he rebuked Peter and gave himself up. I can understand that Peter’s courage waned. Courage to stand is hard when it looks like God has given up. Just watch the news. Evil seems to prosper, and those who claim to know God are mocked and marginalized. It’s easy to lose your nerve when God doesn’t seem to be doing anything.
But then I look at the text more closely. After Peter objected to Jesus’ prophecy, Mark records that Jesus still asks Peter to watch and pray with him in the Garden (vv. 32-34). In his darkest hour, knowing full well that Peter would not stand the test, Jesus still wanted the companionship of a weak braggart.
In that is my hope. “Standing for Jesus” is not about what I can do for God. Rather, it is about what God has done for me. He wants me near. O Lord, keep my eyes on Jesus—and help me to stand with him.