The longer I walk with Christ, the more adamant my declaration of loyalty embeds itself in my mind. Yet a cursory review of my day often reveals the subtle ways I deny Christ. Throughout the temptations and challenges of my days, when faith fails, my denial echoes painfully in my heart.
When our faith falls prey to our own self-sufficiency for strength, pride becomes the devil’s tool for dismantling what we once thought unshakeable.
As Holy Week unfolds, the reminder of Peter’s denial keenly impresses my heart, but his was not the only faith which failed the night of Jesus’ arrest.
At the close of the last Passover supper celebrated by Jesus with His disciples on earth, just before they sang the last song of the evening, Jesus revealed they would all face watching their faith fail.
Interestingly, the last Passover with Jesus and His disciples began in the Upper Room with Jesus washing the feet of His disciples in a demonstration of forgiveness and spiritual cleansing.
Followed by Jesus sharing His heart with them about His soon departure, the sending of the Comforter, and the revelation of Judas as His betrayer, Jesus also shared some shocking news:
“Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
Peter of course insists he will never deny Christ even if faced with death in Matthew 26:33-35, yet hours later claims he never knew Christ when questioned by a young girl.
The stark contrast of Jesus cleansing the feet of those He knew would forsake Him in His darkest hour, with the heart attitudes of pride and self-sufficiency exposes the disciples’ misplaced faith.
when faith fails
Though they all wondered at the identity of the betrayer, having only days prior argued who was greatest among them, none recognized the prideful hearts attempting to solely sustain their fragile faith.
Like the disciples, (Matthew 26:56) too often my pride boasts in the strength of my faith only to result in my own falling away at a crucial time.
When our faith fails, it reveals a tendency for trusting in the strength of our love for Christ or our own ability to maintain our faith.
Peter as well as the rest of the disciples saw their faith fail at a crucial moment, yet none of them truly lost their faith. Though the bible account highlights Peter’s denial, we know only that the others deserted Christ (Matthew 26:56).
Down But Not Out
Pondering the events of Christ’s last hours as Holy Week progresses reminds me, I must hold fast to my faith. We have this treasure in fragile earthen vessels, (2 Corinthains 4:7) that God’s power might shine forth, not our own.
Allowing the pride of self-sufficiency to take root opens the door for my faith to fail as I desert Christ in favor of handling things on my own.
Perhaps not denying Him altogether, but leaving His way and counsel for my own, or like Peter, fearing man rather than God.
But even as Christ knew His men would desert Him, He cleansed and forgave them. He exhorted Peter to strengthen his brethren after he turned back from his sin.
Though at times our faith may fail, it is not lost, but often strengthened after we return.
A refined faith
Finding tremendous solace in knowing each of the disciples which deserted Jesus at His arrest, recovered the true focus of their faith and went on to build Christ’s church; I realize God’s redemptive power even in times when I fall away.
Though faith grown cold through neglect or weak through self-sufficiency may fail in a time of crisis, God’s faithfulness redeems and rekindles the fire of true faith.
Peter saw first hand Christ’s redemption of his denial when they met for breakfast on the beach after Jesus’ resurrection. (John 21:15-25).
Later writing to the believers about the trial of faith (1 Peter 1:7) showing forth not only the value of their faith, but honoring God through it.
When your faith fails, allow repentance to have its perfect work, leading you to rest in God’s redemptive work of restoration to an even stronger faith for the days ahead.