Have you ever sensed you will be let down? You arrange to meet someone, for instance, and they don’t turn up. “I knew this would happen,” you say to yourself.
Jesus knew he would be deserted, too. Of course, being the Son of God, he had far greater knowledge of situations than we do.
Just before his death, Jesus’ friends failed him.
In the Garden of Gethsemane they fell asleep instead of praying like he asked them to. Judas, one of Jesus’ chosen followers, and taught by Jesus, betrayed him. Many of the other twelve disciples scattered after Jesus’ arrest. And then Peter…
The Garden of Gethsemane where this “letting down” began is across the valley from where Peter would have nothing to do with his Lord.
I’ve stood there with the Old City behind and the Mount of Olives ahead across the valley, although modern buildings obstructed a view of the Garden of Gethsemane.
The soldiers brought Jesus, after they had seized him in the Garden of Gethsemane, to Annas’ house, the former high priest. It’s walking distance.
Just beyond limestone steps, white rectangular boulders define the outline of a building believed to be the site of Annas’ house.
In between the house and where I stood is an ancient limestone stairway making a distinct path down the hill. It is likely the soldiers dragged a bound Jesus up the stairway and into the home.
John went into the house with Jesus and witnessed the interrogation that went on. Peter stayed outside and warmed himself by the fire.
I wanted to put my Nike soled feet on the steps where Jesus’ sandaled feet walked. An iron fence makes the area inaccessible.
As I stood on rocky land in dusty brown dirt, I contemplated the fateful evening after Jesus’ arrest.
Somewhere in the vicinity, Peter stood by a fire. By now the sun had disappeared and coldness crept over all who were there.
On this hillside Peter vehemently denied he knew his Lord.
The first two times, Peter’s denial was to a girl! I don’t mean to degrade her, but she wasn’t someone important, like the high priest or his cronies.
Fear consumed Peter. Perhaps he thought he would be arrested, too.
The rooster’s crow reminded Peter of what Jesus had told him only a few hours earlier: “Today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”
But, let’s not be too hard on Peter.
Peter defended Jesus with a sword in the Garden.
When the soldiers took Jesus from the Garden Peter may have followed at a distance, but at least he was still there.
Peter may have denied Jesus, but he didn’t abandon him.
It must have been heart-breaking for Jesus that his friend would have nothing to do with him when Jesus needed him most.
Yet, it is Peter’s heart that broke. The burly fisherman wept.
So what could Peter have done better? Jesus had prepared in the garden. Peter had not.
Pray so you don’t fall into temptation, Jesus had told Peter.
The worst temptation is for us to deny Jesus, to not stand up for him. And it’s easy to do—like Peter we fear what other people can do to us.
I know there are times when I have let down my Lord.
We may also weep, but let’s follow Jesus’ example and prepare ourselves in prayer as he instructed.
Has there been a time when you have denied Jesus from fear of being rejected or mocked?
Do you fear he will deny you too? Remember Jesus is always faithful. Let’s learn from our mistakes and move on.
What is one way you can boldly proclaim Christ is your Lord at the risk of being mocked or rejected?
How can you show favor to and forgive someone who has rejected you?