“But he said emphatically, ‘If I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And they all said the same.” Mark 14:31
When Peter spoke those infamous words, Christ loved him nonetheless. His was a bold and courageous determination to defend the Lord at all costs. I believe Peter thought he would be capable of carrying out his commitment as this surge of bravado coursed through his veins. Nothing would deter him from keeping his promise to the Master. The disciple’s words sprung from a heart completely convinced that come hell or high water he could never deny Jesus, would most certainly never leave him alone.
But he did both. Hell and very high water bared their ugly teeth, and Peter’s stalwart resolution disappeared in the ferocious clash. Long before he ever denied Christ in the courtyard, Peter fell asleep in the garden without bringing Jesus one drop of comfort. He wanted to be brave, had every intention of carrying out his commitment, but he panicked and hid in the murky shadows of the city bent on Christ’s destruction.
We hear in Peter’s words an echo of our own heart. In comfortable, padded pews and inspiring retreat centers we pledge to walk close to Christ, to sacrifice for the cause of the gospel, to be obedient to his Word. Determined, we listen to resounding sermons and powerful Bible lessons, convinced we too will follow him regardless of the cost.
But we fail. Like Peter, we face insurmountable odds and run scared. We forget our vows and become like the frightened fisherman hiding in the smoke-filled Jerusalem courtyard. Pride trips us up, and we sprawl head first on the pavement of upended promises.
Christ came to Peter by the familiar Sea of Galilee and restored the disciple’s faith. Christ forgave his enormous blunder and reinstated the disciple; he will forgive us too. The Lord knows our wobbly hearts and weak knees. As we ask, he will help us face whatever is charging down the pike or lurking around the bend. As we continue to rely heavily on his Word, to walk humbly before him, and to cling to the strength he alone provides, we can trust the Lord for every step ahead, regardless.
Elizabeth A. Mitchell