Peter was sure that he had it worked out. He was one of the leaders in Kingdom that was to come. Jesus was the Messiah and Peter had a front-row seat, even as one of the Messiah’s disciples. He even seemed to have an inside track as the leader of the leaders. Could it get better than this? He was in great shape.
But then Jesus says that he is leaving. He is going away.
Wait, what? Peter might have thought…
I imagine that Peter might have also been thinking:
Where could you possibly be going?
We have important work to do. We need to take over Jerusalem and overthrow the Romans, don’t we?
But Jesus says that Peter cannot follow him now. He can’t come to where Jesus is going.
Now Peter is alarmed. He is in the catbird’s seat. He is in a great spot, and now he is going to be left behind? Hold on just a second…
So Peter makes his case. He says that he is willing to give his life for Jesus!
Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!John 13:37-38
Jesus is right there with the answer. Despite Peter’s best intentions, Jesus already knows that Peter is about to truly be tested. Words are one thing, but the true test is about to come. In fact, while Peter doesn’t yet realize it, the true test is coming that night.
Unfortunately, we find out that Jesus’s prediction comes true and Peter does deny Jesus. Three times, and in somewhat rapid succession no less. Jesus will be arrested and suddenly everything will come crashing down from a human perspective. God’s plan is continuing forward, but Peter’s plan is about to take a hard turn in the wrong direction.
I think Peter’s ordeal and the lesson that he is in the midst of learning at this point is actually a lesson also for each of us. Words are cheap, so the saying goes. But this lesson that Peter is about to learn is going to send him into a new level of understanding suffering for the Gospel.
Will Peter really lay down his life for Jesus? Not this time, but it will be a lesson that he will learn for the rest of his life.
And what about us? Will we lay down our lives for Jesus?
We can make a choice, but it is important to understand that we aren’t just talking about a choice to lay down our physical lives because of our association with Jesus. Not just if someone has a gun to our heads or is threatening our lives. This isn’t really the only lesson that we should take away from this situation.
Instead, we should be thinking about how we are living for Christ. Not just whether we will die for him, but how we will live.
Will I really lay down my life for Jesus? Will I really turn it over to him? Will I really give it to him, or will I deny him and live the way that I want? Will I truly lay down my life, or will I deny his lordship over my life?
Words are cheap. Actions are what count. Now is the time to act, laying down our lives for what we say we believe.