Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I’ll give up my life for you.”
Jesus replied, “Will you give up your life for me? I assure you that you will deny me three times before the rooster crows.
Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. John 13:37-14:3 (CEB)
Last week, I wrote about love. Love is a controlled burn. Love helps us to go where we cannot go on our own. However, as I was reminded in Alicia Britt Chole’s 40 Days of Decrease, love needs time to grow. Jesus walked the path to the cross out of love, but is our love strong enough to make that same journey?
Peter wasn’t ready. Peter had spent the better part of three years living and working with Jesus. Yet when the time came, his love wasn’t ready to follow Jesus to the cross. Peter needed the wilderness of denial. And Jesus knew it. Look at this exchange between the Teacher and his disciple.
Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I go with you now? I would die for you!”
“Would you really die for me?” Jesus asked. “I tell you for certain that before a rooster crows, you will say three times that you don’t even know me.”
Peter asked Jesus why he couldn’t go with him now. And what was Jesus’ response? You’re not ready.
My boys, at almost nine and eleven, often think they’re ready for more grown-up things. They really want to stay home alone sometime. My response is always the same–you’re not ready. There’s too much I still have to teach them about being self-sufficient. And, they can’t even reach the microwave to make food. They need more time.
Peter needed more time. In the church, we look at Peter’s denial of Christ as a cautionary tale. We tell believers to be strong in their faith, not fickle like Peter. But here’s the thing: Jesus knew Peter wasn’t ready. He told Peter that Peter wasn’t ready. And then, do you know what he said–in the very next breath? Don’t worry about it.
Don’t be troubled. Trust me. I’ve got it covered. And there will come a time when you will be ready, and you will be with me.
Jesus didn’t condemn Peter for his coming lack of faith. Instead, he comforted him. He encouraged him. He loved him.
Peter wasn’t ready to go to the cross. His love needed more time to grow. He needed to sit in the darkness of that long night of Jesus’ arrest and to wrestle with what he believed. He needed to see the empty tomb, to see Jesus appear once more.
Jesus understood this. And he waited. He waited until Peter’s love was ready. And when Peter was ready, Jesus asked him: Peter, do you love me?
Peter’s response was a resounding yes. Peter, who had denied Jesus out of his grief and fear, now proclaimed Jesus as Christ. Peter, who stood in the shadows as Jesus was arrested, tortured and nailed to the cross now willingly walked that very same path Jesus had trod. Peter’s love was ready to go where Jesus called him to go.
This week, ask yourself if your love is ready, really ready, to go where Jesus is going. Is your love ready for the cross? If the answer is no, be at peace with that response. Allow your love for God the time it needs to grow. Live a bit in the wilderness, trusting and depending on God. Let God reveal his steadfastness to you, so that when the time comes, you will be ready to follow wherever Jesus might lead.
Blessings and Peace,
*Note: This post originally published March 21, 2016.