Wednesday, March 22, 2017

wavering courage and falling disciples

Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”
Matthew 26:33-34

I, like Peter, would like to think of myself with a faith so bold that I would never turn from Jesus under pressure. I'd probably have said something similar as these men did under these circumstances. Jesus rightly predicted all His disciples would hide in fear during His arrest, trials, and crucifixion. And according to Matthew 26:35, Peter was not alone in his insistence that he would never fail his Master. All the disciples said the same.

But they did the opposite of what their bravado vainly boasted. They all fled at His darkest hours. Peter even adamantly denied knowing Jesus three times before the morning of the crucifixion arrived. Being a committed disciple facing death is probably easier said than done. Courage is cheap when it is advertised, costly and very rare when it is called into action. All the disciples would find their faith tested in this horrible time of failure.

I'm glad the gospels present this reality of the disciples falling away to us. It testifies to the veracity of the events. The disciples to a man experienced meltdowns of faith and that makes perfect sense with human nature. It squares with historical accuracy because most assuredly a legendary tale would have presented the future leaders of the church in a better light. They would not have been so frail. But the true events depicted with integrity for us show that Jesus was vulnerable before Pilate and the Jewish courts because His death was a necessary sacrifice at the very center of the drama for human redemption. The disciples were weak and wavering men because they needed to be redeemed! They experienced the trauma of unbelievable events. Their fear is actual because the events are recorded in the gospels with historical integrity. Jesus died for sin... even to forgive the sins of lack of courageous faith among His own followers.

If the men who saw Jesus heal the sick, walk on water, feed the hungry, and raise the dead had a faith that wavered even as they literally walked with Jesus, I am left to conclude that a disciple's faith is very hard. That is why we need Jesus to have done redemption completely for us, because we do not have the capacity. We are weak. We are broken. We need Jesus to have completed our redemption so that faith solely in His work credits us before God. There is no other way for people who fall away.

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