Even If I Have To DIE With You, I Will Not Deny You   3 comments

The following is my reflection of Thabiti Anywabwile’s reflection of Matthew 26. You can find his reflections here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2010/02/05/the-folly-of-boasting-in-our-hearts/

During the Lord’s Supper, Jesus foretold of the scattering of the disciples. Jesus says, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” (Matthew 26:31-32).

And then comes the famous conversation between Jesus and Peter in Matthew 26:33-35:

Peter: Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.
Jesus: Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.
Peter: Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.

Of course, we know what happens after this. Jesus is betrayed by Judas, taken to Caiphas, and tried, ultimately being sentenced to death on the cross. And Peter? He denied Jesus… three separate times before morning arrived.

And, I tend to forget the lessons of this encounter and this colossal failure by Peter. Because, I tend to think to myself, “Self, I know I’m not the greatest guy, but if I saw Jesus and was discipled by Jesus for three years, I know that I would never deny Him. I really would die rather than denying Him. Bring it on because I ain’t Peter.” If I’m true and honest with myself, I know that my heart tends go towards such thinking. If Peter only had more will-power. If Peter was only more faithful. If Peter, if Peter, if Peter…

Then the Lord gently corrects my horrendously faulty line of thinking. That’s exactly why Peter failed, and that’s exactly why I would’ve failed in that same situation. Peter was so determined to show Jesus that he could do it based on his own strength and his own abilities. I live in a society that praises my accomplishments–the trophies on my shelf, the degrees on my wall, the accolades on my resume. And though I know to give God the glory for that, I’m gonna get mine. Because I worked hard for those trophies and those degrees and those accolades, and I know that if I put my mind to something, I can do it. Even the Bible tells me, and tells us, that we’re pretty fancy stuff. It says so in Philippians 4: “I CAN do ALL things!”

For those of you nodding along with me, I’m wrong–and so are you! Because I should have realized by now that everything I have done was through the power of Christ exhibited as grace in my life. I hope some of you caught the problem of my Philippians 4 quote. Philippians 4:13 really says, “I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me.” Or, to put it another way: “I can do nothing without Christ strengthening me.” See, there are so many lift-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps people who mistakenly quote this as a quote of self-glorification, of self-actualization. But the Bible never tells us that! It tells us that if you try to act like Peter and think too highly of your own abilities, you’re gonna get owned. The emphasis on Philippians 4:13 isn’t “I CAN,” but “THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS.”

But it’s a struggle to remember this. Because I want to praise myself… cuz it feels good. Society is ready to praise ME for MY accomplishments, and who am I to stop them. Let me give myself a pat on the back and an ole “atta-boy.” But the Bible is directly opposed to this. The yearning to be found worthy, the straining to do some good in this world, and to make a difference… God saved us from this. Don’t get me wrong–God wants us to feed the hungry, love the lowly, and clothe the poor. But if we try to do it by ourselves… it’ll all amount to one thing: irrelevance.

“Abide in Me [Jesus], as I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned” (John 15:4-6).

“All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:6-8).

“I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

Our striving is vanity; our works are like grass that withers; and our efforts will dry up like a branch and burn. That is… unless you trust in the power of God because Jesus promises that if we “store up for ourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20) by relying on His strength and living according to His will in our lives, then He will use us to move mountains and to save a people for Himself.

It starts with the basics. Every little thing, you have to trust in God, do according to His strength, and freely give Him all glory for it.

The great thing about having a relationship with Jesus Christ is the patience with which he loves us. Remember Peter’s lofty statements, and his subsequent fall? Jesus speaks to him after His resurrection in John 21:17:

Jesus: Simon [Peter], son of John, do you love Me?
Peter: Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.

This is a far cry from Peter’s bold statements about what he could do and how faithful he was. Here, Peter just gives a meek response of “Lord, You know all things.”

Thabiti Anywabile’s remarks on his much shorter post says this: “It is far better to pray for our hearts than to boast or trust in our hearts. Our hearts do not deserve our confidence, Jesus does. Our hearts will not keep us from falling away. Only Jesus will.”

Don’t trust in yourself, your abilities or your faithfulness. Trust in Jesus. Rely on Jesus. Enjoy seeing Jesus lifted high, as you bring yourself low.

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Posted February 5, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

3 responses to “Even If I Have To DIE With You, I Will Not Deny You

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  1. “Amen!” to every word, brother! Grace and peace,
    T-

  2. Thanks for the words, Thabiti. Look forward to hearing you preach about wrongly engaging culture and how it affects the gospel at T4G.

  3. good stuff bro

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