I noticed something these past week when preparing a sermon over Luke 22: 47-65. The account of the arrest or seizure of Jesus, Peter’s three denials and the initial beating and mocking of Jesus is a well-known account.
However, I noticed something I had not picked up on before. As the mob comes to arrest Jesus, he reminds them how he was with them every day in the temple, yet they come out at night in the power of darkness to betray him.
During Peter’s denials, a servant girl recognizes Peter and says he was with Jesus, to which Peter denies being with Jesus. Later another guys says of Peter that he was also with them, to which Peter denies being with Jesus and the other Apostles, and then in the final denial another man recognizes Peter as a fellow Galilean and says he was certainly with Jesus. Peter denies being with Jesus again and the rooster crows.
What we have here is a concept of being with Jesus in more than words. Daily Jesus was in the temple teaching truth, yet the religious leadership, hearing the truth rejected it. Proving they may have physically been in the presence of Jesus, they were clearly not, “with him.”
Peter likewise, after three years of being physically with Jesus, proves how little he was truly with Jesus when he ignores the admonition to prepare as he is about to be sifted. Not only that, when push comes to shove, Peter quickly denies being with Jesus three times.
How often are we as believers, physically in the presence of other believers? How often are believers in churches on Sundays and involved in small groups during the week? How often do we give the appearance of being with Jesus, but if someone was record our behavior and thoughts and play them back for us, we clearly would be found, not with Jesus.
We have an ability as humans to check out and go through life. We can push a button for ten hours a day for pay. We can mow acres of grass without a critical thought, and drive hundreds of miles without paying a lick of attention. We have the ability to go through life without being a part of life and for many, there faith is also a reflection of this.
Life as a Christian is not easy. If I had to give someone that professed their belief and faith in Jesus a path forward to be with Jesus in a more profound way, I would ask them to be better today than they were yesterday. To accept that we may fall short of the mark today, but we can improve tomorrow with the power of the Holy Spirit and grace of God, becoming more and more Christ-like every day. However, this is not going to happen despite us. It has to happen with us being active participants.
To put effort from waking to sleeping every single day, fully cognizant of our penchant to check out of life, towards being a visible and public Christian in act and deed, while inwardly praying for change that lasts.
This is the daily struggle of the Christian and it is not easy. Do not let anyone fool you by saying it is.