Mark 14:26-31

When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters; for it is written,

‘I will strike the shepherd,

and the sheep will be scattered.’

But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”

Peter said to him, “Even though all become deserters, I will not.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.”

But he said vehemently, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And all of them said the same. Mark 14:26-31

Peter was absolutely sure that he would stick with Jesus through whatever life might bring their way. He was a true believer. A warrior. The best of friends. Dedicated. Devoted.

Everybody else might back down. They might give up. They might crumble and crater. But not Peter. “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.”

Weirdly, reading these verses reminds me of a fight that happened in middle school between two good friends of mine. Tony was a talker. He put himself out there as a tough guy. George? George was George. He was just a good guy. He was the kind of guy who wouldn’t hurt anyone. Everybody liked George. But Tony called him out and George followed.

One punch later and Tony changed his tune. A couple more punches and Tony was done. I never saw either of them ever fight anyone else again.

I know this memory didn’t come back to me this morning because I encourage fighting. I don’t. And no, I don’t think anything in the story would have changed at all had Peter later showed that he had the walk to back up his talk.

I remember this story because all it took was one punch.

One punch to reveal our true selves.

Jesus saw it coming. Jesus knew that he alone would have to do what he alone could do. Jesus knew that the only power he possessed was the power of love. He couldn’t – and more importantly, he wouldn’t – force anyone to trust him. To follow him. To love him. Only love could do that.

The love that possessed Jesus was not a selfish love. Just the opposite, it was a self-giving love. Peter thought he loved Jesus in the same self-giving way. One punch was all it would take. One punch and Peter’s faith would crumble in the face of his fear.

Jesus knew that punch was coming. We never know when it will come. But it will. Again and again and again. We will betray our best intentions; we will deny our deepest values. We will trade it all in because of the fear that hides our selfishness and self-centeredness. We will break on our own brokenness. And when it happens, we won’t even see it coming.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, like Peter, we too are steadfastly determined to trust ourselves and our own ability to stay the course of trusting, of following, of standing up for what you have taught us to do. This morning we take great comfort in knowing that you know us far better than we know ourselves – yet you still love us enough to give your life for us. Thank you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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