Day 35 – Betrayal & Denial

Tuesday – March 15, 2016

Day 35 – John 18:1-18 Denied

Focus: vss. 3, 17

So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.

17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”

A couple of days ago we talked about the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s. Those protests were always meant to be non-violent on the part of the protesters. It’s hard to do that. When you really believe in what you are fighting for, it’s hard to not take up a weapon and fight for it. It’s especially hard to see how anything other than a battle can accomplish your goals.

The Right to Life movement has taken a similar approach to ending the practice of abortion and other life issues. I get frustrated with this issue because I’m too much like Peter. I see the wholesale murder of defenseless babies and watch as their body parts are sold off to the highest bidder and it’s hard to choose a non-violent path. But we have to. This is an area where Jesus has asked us to leave the sword in its sheath. This issue has become ingrained in our society and the way to defeat it is to win the hearts and minds of the future generations. Meeting violence with violence, in a case like this, would only further entrench the destructive philosophies that justify it into our society. God doesn’t always fight like this but this is a case where He does.

Peter and Judas are contrasted in today’s scripture passage. One is the denier and the other is the betrayer. Peter was ready to fight it out. He was ready to die right then and there but Jesus knew what Peter didn’t. Jesus knew what His kingdom was really all about. This arrest had to happen. His death had to happen. That was the “cup” the Father had given Him to drink. Peter’s response is very human as is the betrayal of Judas. Judas had come to the conclusion that Jesus wasn’t going to do what he expected him to do and he was disillusioned. Everyone expected Jesus, as the Messiah, to take charge of the kingdom and boot the Romans out. He kept telling them His kingdom was something different but they wanted to believe their own interpretations of messianic prophecy over what they were hearing from the lips of the Messiah Himself. They wanted Jesus to defeat the Romans but Jesus was there to take on the real enemies of mankind: sin and death. The disciples didn’t understand that until after the Resurrection.

We have such a limited view, as humans. We can’t see the future and, to be honest, we’re not very good at seeing the past either. We want what we want and we don’t like it when reality stands in the way. A big part of accepting Jesus is accepting the need to simply trust in God. Jesus gives us the example in verse 11 when He tells Peter that He must choose the Father’s will over Peter’s will. Now is not the time to fight, now is the time for Jesus to die. But it’s also essential for Peter to live. Peter was the chosen leader for seeing the beginnings of the Church that was to carry the message of Christ’s victory to all the ends of the earth.

I have a limited view, too. I will confess my need to rely on Jesus who knows the future. Jesus told Peter to put away his sword and He often speaks to you and me this way as well. What follows, with Peter following at a distance and denying Jesus three times, is the result of Peter reeling after his entire world has just been shattered. He was ready to fight in the garden but the real battle, over death and sin, was one only Jesus could win. Peter’s role, and my role, is different. God wants me to be obedient to His will and leave the future up to Him. God has a bigger plan in mind and I’m not always helping when I pull out my sword and start a fight. My task is to trust in God and let Him use me in a way that accomplishes the most for His kingdom.

Can you trust in God? Can you let Him lead? Are you willing to lay down your sword and let Jesus win the fight for you?

Prayer Focus: Dear Jesus, only You know the future. Forgive me my impetuous nature. Help me to trust in You rather than take the battle into my own hands. Help me to be content to simply follow Your will. I will let You lead. Amen. 

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