A Rash Vow
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 13:36 (Holman) ALord,@ Simon Peter said to Him, Awhere are You going?@ Jesus answered, AWhere I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you will follow later.@
Jesus= nebulous words about leaving the Eleven wore on Peter=s patience. Wanting more details, Peter asked Jesus a prying question.
AWhere are you going?@ Jesus, refusing to be more definite, reiterated they could not follow Him now.
John 13:37a ALord,@ Peter asked, Awhy can=t I follow You now?@
Jesus= evasive answer offended Peter. His pride wounded, Peter asked a presumptuous question. AWhy can=t I follow you now? Do you question my sincerity and resolution? Do you suspect my faithfulness to you?@
John 13:37b AI will lay down my life for You!@
Peter made a rash vow. His resolve here was noble, but he later faltered. Peter believed he wanted to endure anything rather than be separated from Jesus.
What happened in the Garden showed Peter really was willing to die for Jesus, under certain circumstances. However, he could not stand for Christ when all seemed lost. Peter might have yielded to an executioner=s sharp sword, but a servant-girl=s sharp tongue was more than he could bear.
He maybe could have marched behind his Master to a cross. But more strenuous training in discipleship would be needed before he could stand alone. Peter did not yet know what Afollowing@ meant. It was a lesson he (and we) would learn the hard way.
Until Jesus died for Peter, there was not motivation enough for Peter to die for Jesus. Peter=s vow was premature, but not wrong. He later did die for Jesus.
The irony at the Last Supper was, Peter said he was ready to die for Jesus, but the exact opposite was about to happen. Jesus would soon die for Peter.
John 13:38 Jesus replied, AWill you lay down your life for Me? I assure you: A rooster will not crow until you have denied Me three times.@
Peter already felt his allegiance as a disciple had been insulted, but now an even worse blow was delivered against him. Jesus made a sad forecast.
Christ not only foresaw Judas would betray Him, but also foresaw Peter would deny Him. Jesus knows not only the wickedness of sinners, but also the weakness of saints.
Jesus knew Peter=s denial would not happen only once with a hasty slip of the tongue, but also a second and third time. The prediction stunned Peter and subdued him.
As far as we know, Peter was silent the rest of the night in the upper room, though others spoke freely. He is not mentioned again until John 18:10.
Peter had to learn dependence on God. He trusted in his own strength too much. We too must learn to lean on Jesus.
The world says self-reliance is the key to power. The church knows it is the root of weakness. Self-confidence shuts us off from God=s help.
Faith and self-distrust are two sides of the same coin. They go together. We=ll not have one without the other. Wesley said in one of his hymns, we must cling to God, AConfident in self-despair.@
This was a long night for Peter, but he made a comeback. His fall and later return to prominence still stand as a testimony to God=s forgiving power.
Jesus from the first knew about Peter=s weak, unstable impulsiveness, but always loved the disciple dearly. Christ knew time would eventually reveal the strength of Peter=s loyalty. Jesus saw the hero behind the coward.
John 14:1 AYour heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.@
Jesus stated their only hope. The world was about to cave in on the disciples (especially Peter), and as it collapsed they were to make only one response: stubbornly hold on to their trust in God.
They were going to have to trust Christ for everything in their lives, seen and unseen. They had to let their futures rest with the Lord, as must we.
Worry easily becomes our habit. We can be addicted to it. Sometimes, if we cannot specify what we=re worried about, we fantasize something.
The Psalmist urged us to move away from depression and worry, and toward trusting God for everything. AWhy am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God@ (Psalm 42:5).
In our text, believing in God does not mean having an intellectual belief God exists. This is merely the starting point, inadequate by itself, and needing more.
Simple belief in God=s existence does not cure troubles and worries. Since sin has entered the world, we have needed something more.
Our sin causes us to fear God more than we trust Him. When this happens, the problem is not God, but us.
We need a loving Mediator. Fortunately, God provided us one. Our helpful go-between is Jesus, who in our text set Himself side by side with the Father.
This command to believe in Him, along with the Father, is one of the Bible=s many strong evidences of His deity. We trust God when we trust Jesus.
We resort to faith because it is the only helpful thing we have to resort to. What else can steady us? People disappoint; ingenuity fails; money flees.
Being believers, we Christ-followers have some measure of faith already. Let=s build on it. We need to start where we are and increase it.
We have never missed a meal; trust Him for the next one. God has faithfully met our needs. Trust Him to keep doing it. Where He has proven Himself in our life, trust Him there for tomorrow.
A God-fearing widow, in times of trouble, would tell her children, AFear not, God lives.@ Her fortitude was strong, but one day the strain of life drove her to sobbing.
Her littlest child came running with a sorrowful look on his face, and asked, AMother, is God dead?@
This was precisely what she needed. It perked up her spirits. She lifted the child onto her lap and said, ANo, Son. Thank you for the question. God lives; He is near to help all in trouble; He will help us.@
Why do we insist on carrying our troubles alone? Jesus is going to care for us whether we place our burdens on Him or not.
His arms are always underneath us. We are like a person riding in a car. Whether a loaded backpack is worn on the back, or taken off and put on the seat, the car has to carry the load anyway.
This is how it is with Jesus. There=s no need to carry the burdens of life on our back. He=s carrying us anyway. AYour heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in (Jesus).@