Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Today's Reading
27And Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away, for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.' 28But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee." 29Peter said to him, "Even though they all fall away, I will not." 30And Jesus said to him, "Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times." 31But he said emphatically, "If I must die with you, I will not deny you." And they all said the same.
~ Mark 14:27-31

Early in the evening of the Passover, Peter swears his allegiance to Jesus saying, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." However, before morning breaks Peter denies he knew Jesus on three occasions. Consider two questions: why did Peter's attitude towards Jesus change within a few hours? and why do we (like Peter) deny God when faced with pressures from others in our community and culture?

To understand why Peter's attitude changed leading him to deny Christ, we first need to understand the culture of the day. At this time, the Romans had been ruthlessly ruling Jerusalem for over 60 years, causing many Jews to hope for the prophecies of a militaristic Messiah to be fulfilled (refer to the prophesies of God's second coming mentioned in Joel 2 and Isaiah 9). These prophecies called for a Messiah to remove the foreign government and rule as king forever on earth, but the Jews did not understand that these prophesies would not be fulfilled until Jesus' second coming. When Peter learned that Jesus was not the militaristic Messiah, he did not want to be associated with the way Jesus was accomplishing God's will. Peter was willing to give up his life for Jesus, but only on his terms.

Why are we like Peter at times and do not have courage to trust in God's ways? Francis Chan, a pastor in Simi Valley, says that many of us have great ideas as children on how we can serve Christ, but as we grow up people/culture calms us down. We are on fire for God when when we first learn of God's grace, but over time, we become scared to share our faith publicly. Like Peter, we may be afraid of being ostracized or discriminated against. Or more simply, we may just be afraid of being politically incorrect. Jesus never promises that following Him will be easy, but He does tell Peter in Mathew 19:28, "in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones...And everyone who has left houses...for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life."

The life of Peter gives us hope that through God's grace He can change our motives and give us courage. After Jesus' resurrection, we see Peter's change of heart and actions. Peter and the other disciples were arrested for teaching the word of God and brought before the same council that condemned Jesus. This time Peter boldly proclaims he is a follower of Christ (Acts 5). The council had them flogged but the disciples rejoiced that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

1. What do you feel God is telling you to do that you may not have the courage to do? Are you willing to suffer for Jesus' name?
2. Was there a time in your life when you had a plan for life, but God had a different plan? How did you respond?
3. What would your life look like if you trusted God completely?

About This Author
Ben and Tricia- We joined CCPC shortly after getting engaged in 2008 and have become very involved in the 20's/30's group, which is growing as it is grows us in our faith. God is currently teaching us how to trust more in him as we seek to truly show His love to those we meet every day.

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