“But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.”
Jesus had just eaten a very special Passover meal with HIS rag tag group of friends when he started to tell them he was about to be betrayed, denied, and deserted by them.
The disciple’s responses were unanimous, including Judas. Never will we desert, betray, or deny you!
Perhaps Judas didn’t view his act as a betrayal-perhaps he viewed it as just the nudge he believed Jesus needed to be the King he thought the world really needed.
Perhaps Peter believed that when the time came he would be filled with so much courage that he truly did believe in his heart that he would rather die than disown Jesus.
Perhaps all the disciples, while in the comfort and familiarity of Jesus presence, believed that they would never betray, disown, desert, and doubt Jesus.
I believe that with full bellies, familiar faces and voices, and the seemingly unlikely course events Jesus was talking about that night-these distant far off ideas of his sacrifice-they really did believe they would never waiver. Maybe they just believed someday would never come.
Real life can test our faith and our courage. Danger, fear, uncertainty can rattle us to our core.
Life isn’t like the movies which is why so many brave and well trained soldiers suffer from mental stress like PTSD.
We are faithful Christians on Sunday morning as the body of Christ together singing songs to Jesus and all alone mid week fighting to keep our heads above water-fighting illness, financial difficulties, spiritual struggles, mental health battles, and of course addictions.
Jesus understands it’s always harder to trust in him when things are at their worst rather than when they seem to be at their best. And yet light of Jesus shines brightest in the darkness.
Scripture doesn’t tell us how Jesus responded to the disciples sitting before the Christ affirming their unfaltering and unwavering commitment. Did he roll his eyes? Did his eyes begin to mist at the thought of the betrayal that would come just hours later in the Garden of Gethsemane? As he thought about Peter and the sons of Zebedee falling asleep when he needed them the most? Perhaps Jesus thought about Peter’s denial, not once but three times, when confronted with the first bit of danger and confrontation? How often do we betray Jesus because we think we know how to do it better? Or we deny Jesus when we find ourselves confronted with adversity, difficulty, or even uncertainty?
Or did Jesus gently and lovingly smile to comfort the hearts of the disciples pleading innocence before him? Their humanity as much a strength for the future of the church as it was a weakness for Jesus over the next few days of his life. While their faith waivered initially leading up to his sacrifice-perhaps he looked past that initial failings towards how they would all give so much to proclaim his love and truth after his resurrection to build his Church?
Jesus is both human and divine. Jesus understood how deeply the disciples loved him and yet was susceptible to their emotions, temptations, and fears. Jesus understands we too are human and especially loves us in spite of all our doubts, fears, anxiety, and despair.
While we may desert Jesus, and we do- Jesus never deserts us.
May it be so,
Rev. Lou Ward
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