Monday, July 21, 2014

Jesus Said It

I can remember a song we used to sing when I helped to lead a Scripture Union group after school with primary school children:-

“God said it and I believe it and that’s the way it should be, Hallelujah!”

There were actions that went with it like pointing upwards and doing something that involved fists.  It was a cheerful tune and we sang with gusto.  Whether we actually put into practice is a different matter.

“Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me…but after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”  Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”  (Matt 26:31-33)

The song came to mind this morning as I was reading these verses.  Jesus said that the disciples would fall away.  They, the sheep, would be scattered once He, The Shepherd, was struck.  Jesus was simply telling them how the events over the next few hours would play out.  He wasn’t trying to manipulate them into staying around out of duty or obligation or guilt. He had been with them long enough to know how they would behave.

He went on the talk about “after I have risen” but they were not listening.  “After I have risen” made no sense to them, but falling away did.  Peter was swift to say that even if the others abandoned Jesus he wouldn’t.

"To death, I go
With you, if will"
My lips, he touched
"My friend, be still."
My words, knew he
Flamed hot in me
But by his side
I would not be

Jesus spoke His word of truth.  Peter spoke an alternative version of that truth.

Jesus said it – but Peter chose not to believe it (and that’s not the way it should be, Hallelujah).

In Jesus’ version Peter denied that he knew him three times.  The first denial was gut reaction, perhaps – our natural instinct for self-preservation kicking in.  But then came two chances to choose a response.  Peter chose denial.

Peter did not want to agree with Jesus’ version.  He didn’t want to be the man Jesus described, the man who fell away.  Peter wanted to be the man who stayed.  Perhaps right up until the moment came he thought he could be the man who stayed.  Jesus’ assessment of him was right.

He should have been listening more carefully to what Jesus said afterwards about the resurrection and the meeting at Galilee.  He would have known that denying he knew Jesus would not be the end of the story – that there was an afterwards coming.   There may be a telling off perhaps, or a rebuke of some kind – but an afterwards none the less.  For Peter there was forgiveness and a redefining of his task.

We don’t get a swift “afterwards” when someone dies.  There will be a resurrection and a meeting in heaven but not three days later. Sometimes the temporary end of the story when it concerns friends or family isn’t always a good one.

Do I really believe what Jesus says about me and what I will do?  Or do I try to tell him my own version of things.

When Jesus says - “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me” – do I add a list of other things that if done faithfully will bring me nearer to God?

When Jesus says -”But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” – do I obsess about the “added” things more – the job, the house or the holiday?

When Jesus says –“Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you” do I think about all the things done, or not done, that will disqualify me from asking?

I need to start singing that refrain over and over again. And not just singing it because it’s a catchy tune or simply singing it with gusto – but singing it with faith.

God (Jesus) said it and I believe it and that’s the way it should be, Hallelujah!

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