Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” (Luke 22:33)
Pretty bold, huh?
At our church, when young people are confirmed or we receive new members, I ask, “Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?”
And you know what? Everyone responds, “I do, by the grace of God.”
Just like Peter, I doubt that we understand what we are promising. Kind of like looking in the eyes of our spouse at the altar and repeating the vow, “Til death parts us.” I believe we are sincere. I believe we believe we can do this. I also believe we have no idea what’s coming.
Peter might have been ready for prison and death. But he wasn’t ready for a servant girl’s simple statement, “This man was with Jesus” (Luke 22:56-57). He had no clue how hard it would be to remain faithful.
I confess, I’ve become cynical. Too many people have said, “I do,” and never come to worship with us (or anyone else) again. Too many have come back and asked me to perform their second or third marriage. Many, dissatisfied with their church, went to another. Were they threatened with prison or death? No. They simply ran up against the challenge of being faithful.
Rarely do we understand the commitments we make. “I’m going to get up and exercise every day.” But then on day two you are too sore to move and you’re done. “I’m going to learn how to play the guitar.” But you had to work overtime and the dog got sick and there was no time to practice. “If we get a dog, I promise I’ll feed and walk him every day.” But it’s raining. And there was a meeting after school. And I forgot. Thirty-six payments in and you’re wondering, “Isn’t this car paid off yet?”
Peter, you’re not ready. Neither are we, really. And so we fail, and we fall hard on the grace of God. Those who haven’t missed a Sunday in years confess that we have failed to love God and love our neighbor. Those who have been married for fifty years or more confess that they have sinned and need God’s forgiveness. Those who preach and teach stand at a distance and say, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.”
The foundation of our faith is never our intention or our strength. It’s him. He’s our rock, our refuge, and our fortress.
There is no other.
I do – by your grace alone, Lord. Amen.