Read Mark 14:27-31
27 On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,
‘God will strike the Shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’
28 But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”
29 Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.”
30 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
31 “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same. (NLT)
Those of us who have followed Jesus many years may recall our making bold statements from time to time that from here on it will be different. We will henceforth not let Jesus down. We will from now on give him hundred-percent commitment. No more half-hearted Christianity. Jesus is now truly my Lord.
Those of us who have followed Jesus long enough will also recall we didn’t quite measure up to those promises. We were sincere, we did try, but it became a bit like embracing a new diet. We start well but somehow go off track as time goes by.
Peter is one clear example of this sort of thing. We know him to be impulsive, opening his mouth before engaging his brain. Perhaps it would have been wiser of him to declare to Jesus that he earnestly didn’t want to deny him. But such was his momentary enthusiasm that he overstated his case.
Let’s by all means be sincere and passionate about following Jesus. But remember he is not swayed by our verbal fervency. He knows that behind our big and bold promises there is a fallible heart and will. He is not fooled by our gushing declarations of loyalty. But nor is he dismissive of them. He takes them for what they are: expressions of a desire to be the people he means us to be.
Our failure to match intention and action are not meant to engender self-loathing but rather meant to drive us thankfully into the realms of grace.