Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterwards.’ Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.’
For men who had left literally everything to follow Jesus, these final hours with Him must have felt catastrophic. This man with a kingdom, on whom they had pinned every hope, now tells them that He is leaving them. Everything they had devoted themselves to for the last three years now seems lost. Everything is unraveling.
But worst has to be hearing that by morning even Peter, “the Rock”, will deny Jesus, not just once, but three times! And if Peter would deny His Lord, then might not any of the them as well. Earlier in the evening when Jesus said that one of them would betray Him, each had to look deep into his own soul and shamefully ask, “Lord, is it I?” (Matthew 26:22). Denial and betrayal lurks within all of them.
Notice that it is at such a bitter, devastating moment, Jesus tenderly bids his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled”. Or as The Message translates it: “Don’t let this throw you”. Don’t let what you have just heard throw you, or trouble you. Rather, “Believe in God, believe also in me”.
Peace and confidence always come from believing in God, and not in ourselves or our merit. Jesus’ followers need not be troubled by their circumstances or failure, but hold to the faithfulness of God revealed in Jesus.
Writing in his book, The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer says: “Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself, faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. While we are to look at God we do not see ourselves – blessed riddance.” Get your eyes off yourself, your circumstances, and even your sin, and just keep occupied with God. Do not let your hearts be troubled any longer. Be at peace in knowing that Jesus came to draw us close with Him to the Father’s heart.
What are there in Jesus’ words today to know; to feel; to do?