Raw Christianity – Good Friday 2016

I woke up early this morning and made myself get out of bed. It is so much easier just to sleep than to get up and spend quality time with God. I wish I could say that wasn’t true, I wish I could say that I pop right out of bed at the chance to be alone with God… It’s not that I don’t enjoy time with God and feel alive, invigorated and revived when I hear from my maker, I do, but reality is I’m human and still like the easy way. This reminds me of the disciples in the garden with Jesus the night He was betrayed. Jesus asked Peter, James and John to watch and pray with Him, but they just couldn’t stay awake… So, at least I am in good company 😉 The battle between sleep and prayer was even an issue for Jesus’ closest disciples! But today I win, I am up, spending time with Jesus and writing this, something He has put on my heart for a while… I am not letting sleep win (although tomorrow will probably be another battle).

Anyway, the real focus of my writing today is Peter, one of the guys who also struggled with sleeping as I mentioned above. Peter is one of my favorite disciples. He was quick to act, to speak which meant He experienced some great things with Jesus, walking on water for one, but he also had some epic failures which is why I can really relate to him! One time as they were talking, Jesus asked who people said he was, then who they thought He was. Peter answered right away that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, Jesus praised him for his answer (Matthew 16:15-17). Then, just a couple versed later (22-23), Jesus was telling them about His upcoming betrayal, death and resurrection and Peter tries to rebuke Him so Jesus told Peter, “Get behind me Satan.” Wow, from praise to strong rebuke in a couple verses… this is why I like Peter!

The story that has really challenged me and caused me to write this comes towards the end of Peter’s time with Jesus. It is the night Jesus will be betrayed and Jesus is again telling His disciples what will happen to Him and that they will all scatter. Peter says no, not him… he will die with Jesus before he denies Him. Jesus knows the truth, he tells Peter that before the rooster crows, Peter will deny Jesus three times… Skip ahead a little to after they are awoken in the garden to a group with swords and clubs coming for Jesus. Peter pulls out his sword to fight for Jesus, he cuts off the ear of one of those coming against Jesus. And what does Jesus do? He doesn’t praise him but gently rebukes him and heals the guys ear. Then, we all know what happens. Jesus goes willingly, He knows this is part of the plan, and all of his disciples flee, just as He predicted. Peter does follow, but at a distance and as you probably know, he denies even knowing Jesus three times that night just as Jesus said. (Matthew 26:31-75)

This really got me thinking… I believe Peter was 100% committed when he said he would die for Jesus (and he eventually did), but what he really meant that night was that he would fight for Jesus, he would die in battle, but what Jesus did, what He ask us to do is surrender.

How often do I want to fight for Jesus but not surrender to Him? It is easy to fight for who or what we care about. When it comes to one of the passions in my live, I can fight for them. I fight to defend them, fight to make things happen, fight to keep going… but surrendering my will to Jesus, that is a little harder to do. I think many of us are just like Peter, we want to fight, but not surrender.

The end of the story for Peter is a good ending, Jesus restores their relationship and Peter is one of the leaders of the first church. Peter learned to surrender and He was used by God in great ways!

The question for me, for us is that same… Are we willing to surrender to God’s will instead of fight for our own way?

Today, Good Friday reminds us that Jesus was the ultimate example. He surrendered to the Father’s will. He gave His life… So, when He asks us to surrender, He is not asking us to do anything different than He did.