I’ve been around long enough that I’m a bit wary of my “good intentions.” I can recall times I’ve been to an exciting and inspiring church service where I’ve been challenged to “make a commitment” and I’ve done it!! – made all kinds of “promises to God – only to discover delivering on those promises is more difficult than making them. Shamefully, I admit to having some of the same spiritual challenges as Simon Peter who I read about this morning in the Bible during my time of “Coffee with the Lord!”
After the moving experience of the Lord ’s Supper, Jesus predicted, “You will all fall away!” This really bothered Peter and he fervently declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not!” Jesus responded (knowing Peter “inside-out”), “Truly, I tell you, today – yes tonight – before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” The Bible says at that point Peter insisted emphatically, “EVEN IF I HAVE TO DIE WITH YOU, I WILL NEVER DISOWN YOU!”
But in Gethsemane, when Jesus needed prayer support the most, Peter failed Him… Jesus had admitted, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow – to the point of death! Stay here and keep watch” (in other words “stay awake and alert – support me in prayer!”) What did Peter and the others do? They slept. The Bible says, “Jesus returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Simon,” He said to Peter, ‘are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation! THE SPIRIT IS WILLING, BUT THE FLESH IS WEAK!’”
Peter failed! And later, under pressure, Peter did precisely what Jesus had predicted! … He died that he even knew the Lord (not once, but three times)! (vss. 66-72)
Tragically, the pathway of discipleship is all too often littered with the stuff of “good intentions!” … mine included!! I need several things, it seems to me, as I reflect on Peter and my own failures this morning…
- I need to be more careful and thoughtful before I “pop off with my mouth” saying I’ll do something.
- I need the inner strengthening and support that prayer brings – I need to pray more.
- I need the Lord’s forgiveness for all the times I’ve made promises and haven’t kept them!
- And finally, 4) I need the continual empowering of the Holy Spirit to help me (Peter certainly did… Thank God for Pentecost!!)
(Quotations from Mark 14 NIV)