After the last supper before the crucifixion, Jesus tells the disciples they will all fall away. Before he even thinks about it, Peter blurts out he will not, but will stay with his Lord. Jesus knows Peter’s heart though and responds with
“I tell you the truth…this very night, before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.”Mt 26:34
. Before Peter has even thought about who he is talking to, he denies Jesus’ words, as though he hasn’t really grasped who he is talking to. How often do we say things without thinking it through, without knowing our true self, without praying about it, without giving it the full attention it deserves. Our mouths are so quick to speak, so quick to defend ourselves without contemplating the truth.
Some credit is due to Peter though, as when Jesus is led away, John and Peter follow. Then Peter loses proximity with Jesus and ends up where he shouldn’t be. He’s a follower of Jesus, he should be following and staying close. He then places himself in harms way by approaching a fire to warm himself, and his speech gives him away. A girl asks if is a follower of Jesus because of his Galilean tones. Jesus’ words find their fulfilment in these successive moments, with Peter denying his Lord three times and then the cock crowed. Peter realises what has happened – Jesus was right. Jesus knew him better than he knew himself.
Yet, Peter wasn’t dealing with a fellow sinner, but with Jesus, his Lord and Saviour. After the resurrection, Jesus tells Peter he is forgiven. Even when we fail him, Jesus can still forgive us and use us.
As the Israelites proceeded to the Promised Land, they had to cross the Jordan. God had told them to go with the Ark before them, carried by the priests. When the priests set foot in the Jordan, God said he would stop the water and enable them to cross while the priests stood in the Jordan. This required the priests to trust God at his word, and to step out in faith. After all, at best the priests would look remarkably silly getting very wet, at worst the priests could lose their lives in the torrent of the Jordan. Once they had reached the middle, their faith would have to continue, trusting that God would continue to hold the Jordan back while the Israelites crossed and eventually allowing they themselves to reach the far bank.
Similarly for ourselves, we may need to initially step out in faith. God has promised us eternal life, a life of knowing him, if we place our trust in Jesus Christ. We have to trust him at his word, that he is able to willing. At best, we may look silly, at worst, we may be trusting in nothing.
Once we have become established, we need to know when to stand still in faith or when to step out again in faith. We may need to stand still in faith, to stay where we are in life. Whether it is forfeiting material gain by staying in the same geographical location instead of moving to a better job, or something like staying single. Of course, we may need to step out in faith, which may be moving to a better job, or pursuing a relationship with the view to becoming married.
We need to look to God, with much prayer, the reading of his word and the consultation of godly people, that we might know when we should by faith, step out and when we should stand still.