Thursday, May 25, 2023

           Following the foot washing in John 13, Judas departed from Jesus and the rest of the disciples to do his deeds of darkness and betrayal.  Attention next turned to Peter once again.  Peter asked Jesus a question, “Lord, where are you going?” (John 13:36).  By now, reality has started to take hold.  The remaining eleven disciples have come to realize that tonight is not “just another night.”  The night is different—much different and far different from anything they had ever experienced with their Teacher and Master.  It looked, sounded and felt different.  The differences were almost palpable.  It was the kind of difference that one can almost wear and touch.    
            Peter seemed to sense this difference with his question.  Jesus has made it plain that He is departing.  His time has come at last.  It is now time to be lifted up.  Jesus said earlier, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).  The lifting up was the cross.  And the enduring power of the cross is salvation and new life to all who believe.  Peter’s question may have been a manner of asking “is now the time for your glory?”  Perhaps this question was indicative of this fisherman’s faith being still a work in progress.  Maybe he was still piecing together what Jesus’ words, miracles, teachings and actions would suggest or mean.
            This question posed by Peter may have been his way to see if he could go with Jesus.  He plainly stated, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37).  Peter made two truly bold claims in his own words.  First, this question “why can’t I follow you?” is at least a tacit suggestion where he says “I can handle anything that comes next.”  From his perspective, he had little reason not to follow Jesus.  He had already left behind the nets, boats, sea and fish for Jesus.  It was simply time to continue this new way of life.  Like a five-year old who thinks he can paint, Peter seemed to think he was ready for whatever was coming.  “Put me in, coach!”  He could take the next steps.  He could walk with Jesus. 
            We can occasionally fall into the same trap.  Our eyes and imaginations are often bigger than our discipleship.  We daydream in bigger ways than we actually serve or follow.  It can be easy to want the bigger things and the better things rather than the simple task the Lord may have entrusted to us.  Peter seems to have completely dismissed or ignored the command that Jesus gave just before his question.  The Lord said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). None of the disciples had any response to this “new command.”  The next step for Peter and the rest of the disciples was to love as Jesus had loved them.  But Peter seemed to be ready to go—to move on and to move ahead to wherever the Lord was next going.
            The second bold claim Peter made was his no-holds-barred declaration “I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37b).  And we know, on that night, that Peter did no such thing.  In reality, he was never even close to laying down his life for Jesus or anyone else.  At crunch time, he seemed most interested in saving his own neck and putting as much distance as possible between himself and Jesus and the other disciples.  Peter did not offer his life for Jesus.  In his own words, Peter offered up three denials instead.  Three denials are not an accident.  They are intentional.  Even today, it is easy to deny Jesus when presented with a chance to offer our lives to and for Him.  Occasionally, our denials can take the form of excuses.  We argue for someone else to do it, we do not have time, we have other plans, we are not qualified or capable.  And on and on and on the excuses can go.  We would likely save both breath and time if we recognized that our excuses are little more than dressed-up denials. Not today, Lord, we often say.  Perhaps some other time but not now. 
            John 13 took place on a big night.  And Peter had some big ideas and big boasts.  But big is not always best.  And big is not always faithful.  Perhaps our takeaway from Peter is a simple lesson.  Rather than telling the Lord what we will do for Him maybe we should listen better to what He does call us to do and to be.  Jesus had given some clear each other.  Love as I have loved each one of you.  Show yourselves to be my disciples by the love you share and show to each other (John 13:34-35).  Love is heavy lifting.  It builds spiritual and faith muscles. 
            Peter took a hard pass on this notion of love so he could make some promises.  Had he listened better to Jesus and taken Jesus’ words to heart, he might have been in position to make good on his plans and promises.  In his own words, Peter wrote checks that could not be cashed.  He made promises he could not keep.  He made plans that he quickly aborted.  May we learn from him to shape our words and lives in conformity to what Jesus has given us to be and to do.  Have a great Thursday!  We hope to worship with you on Sunday!              

No Comments





Acts Bible Communion Cross God's will God\'s will God Gospels Holy Spirit Holy Week Jesus Joseph Lent Peter Reformation Satan accountability action advent all saints allegory anger anxiety apologetics atonement awareness awe backsliding baptism beginning beloved betrayal bitterness blessing born again burden burnout calling care change character chistmas choices christian living christmas church history church circumcision comfort commitment community compassion complacency confession confidence consequences contentment control conversation cost courage creation death debt deception decisions deliverance denial dependence depth desire despair determination devotion direction discernment discipleship discouragement dishonesty disobedience distractions doctrine doubt dreams eagerness emotion encouragement end times endurance equality eternal life eternity evangelism evil example facing battles faithful living faithfulness faith family fatigue fear fellowship focus follow foreshadowing forgiveness foundation freedom friends fruit of the Spirit future generosity gifts giving glory goodness gospel grace grateful gratitude greed grit growth guidance guilt halloween happiness healing heart heaven help history holiday holiness home honesty hope humble humility identity impossible incarnation inspiration instruction integrity intentional jealousy journey joy judgment justice justification kindness kingdom knowing God lament law leadership lead lies life listening love martin luther maturity measure memorial memories mentoring mercy messiah minor prophets miracles missions mission mistakes motives mountaintops mourning music nation nativity nature new year new next generation obedience obstacles offering omniscience opportunity opposition overcoming parenting passion path patience peace pentecost persecution perseverence perspective plan poetry power praise prayer preparation presence pressure pride priorities process prodigal progress promise prophecy protection provision psalm purpose rebellion reconcile redemption refuge rejoice relationship remember remembrance renewal renown repentance resentment resolution restoration rest resurrection return revenge revival righteousness risk sacrifice sadness salt salvation sanctification scripture second coming seeking God self-control serenity sermon service shame sharing silence sincerity sin solitude sorrow sovereignty spiritual disciplines standard star stewardship storms strength struggle stubbornness stuck submission success suffering surrender talents talking temple temptation ten commandments testimony testing thankfulness thankful thanksgiving theology time tithes tough times traditions transfiguration trials trinity troubles trust truth veterans victory vision waiting warning weakness wisdom wise men witness wonder work worship