No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.
—Matthew 26:35 (NLT)
One thing that struck me as I studied our passage this week was how upset the disciples were when Jesus told them they would betray Him. They couldn’t believe it. They insisted that they would die with Jesus. These men had been with Jesus for three years. They had given up everything for Him. In their minds, they were fully committed.
But Jesus could see their reality. He could see their hearts, minds, bodies, and emotions. He knew their full nature. And He knew they would betray Him in one way or another.
The disciples thought they loved Jesus so much more than they did. They overestimated their commitment to Jesus and His kingdom. They were overconfident in their love and courage. They were overconfident in their willingness to walk through pain, to suffer and die. But in all this, they weren’t unusual: they were simply human.
The disciples, Jesus’ closest friends, could not see the poverty of their spiritual souls. But Jesus could. Jesus could see how spiritually weak they were. And yet, not only does Jesus not desert them first, Jesus doesn’t even rebuke or criticize them. He just says, matter of factly, that they will betray him. Why? Because Jesus knows they can’t love Him with the perfect love God has for them. He knows the true nature of their souls.
Something beautiful about this passage is the contrast between the spiritual poverty of the disciples, and the authority, truth, beauty, grace, and power of Jesus Christ.
We are certainly not better than these first followers of Christ! How often do we think we are better off spiritually than we are? How often are we tempted to think that our love for Jesus is strong enough, our faith is strong enough, or our willingness to submit to His will is strong enough?
I have been a devoted Christian since I was 11 years old, but all along I had a secret I was afraid for anyone to find out. My secret was this: My love for God was weak, and my love for others was weak, and my love for myself was weak. I was ashamed of this. I tried to modify my behavior to appear more loving than I really was. When I looked at God’s love for me, and when I looked at God’s love for others, and when I compared God’s love to the puny and cheap little love rattling around in my heart, I felt so small and ashamed. God’s love for us is like a banquet of the finest foods. And my love for others is like a somewhat decent frozen pizza from the grocery store.
But being in the presence of Christ will reveal to you the true nature and condition of your soul because He loves you.
Questions for reflection and discussion: We are all far more spiritually helpless and weak than we realize. But Jesus lavishes us daily with His grace. Don’t reject it. Open up your arms and receive it with joy. Where have you seen your weakness? Where have you seen God’s lavish love and grace?
Church Bible Reading Plan: 2 Samuel 2; 1 Corinthians 13
Saturday, September 9: 2 Samuel 3; 1 Corinthians 14
Sunday, September 10: 2 Samuel 4-5; 1 Corinthians 15