This post is about Struggling Faith (Mark 14:26-72). How do you end up with faith that can be described as struggling? He is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless, but in what situations and contexts might we still find ourselves struggling?
Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night…”
Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.”
Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”
But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
(Mark 14:27-31 NKJV)
Getting right to the point: We end up at struggling faith when we trust in ourselves and do not abide in the Word of God.
Peter heard the Son of God just tell Him that He would be made to stumble, and Peter looked Him in the face and told Him that He was wrong! Repeatedly and vehemently, Peter told Jesus that He was wrong! How in the world do you look God in the face and accuse Him of wrong? No matter what God tells us we must take it as gold, for He is God, and He is not a man that He could lie!
Peter is clearly trusting in himself. He is trusting in his own feelings and emotions. He is trusting in His flesh-the things that he can see, think, and feel. He feels confident. He feels like he is committed to God, and his experience with Jesus these past years may have given him a certain pride in who he is as a believer. But we ought to never to trust in ourselves. We must be careful of false humility and misplaced pride! We must always look to hills from where our help comes! We must always keep God’s Word in our hearts and minds, for the flesh and the world will pass away, but His Word lasts forever. We must be careful and not think that we are untouchable and un-temptable.
The thing Peter did not recognize, and what we must learn to recognize as Christians, is that trials don’t always come as we expect. The devil is sly and knows how to get us when we are most vulnerable. We must always be wary of his tactics and keep our eyes on the Lord.
Now, returning to the text, when we read further we see that Peter was in fact ready to die fighting for Jesus. When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter pulled out a sword and chopped a guys ear off! (John 18:10) I think that shows that he was ready to go out fighting! The problem is that Jesus doesn’t want us going out fighting by the sword, He wants us to go and fight by the cross! If Jesus came down ready to fight like Peter thought He would, we would all be dead because we would all be guilty of sin! But His mission was to die on the cross and fight the curse of sin, death, and hell for us! The cross is what saves lives! The cross is what changes lives! This is why we are commanded to bless those who curse us and pray for those who despitefully use us. Though the world would describe this behavior as soft and weak, Christ teaches us that this is strength! This is what saves lives! This is our lot! This is our light! This is our salt for the world! Our love is what’ll be a witness to the world that God is real! This is our good fight of faith! Not going and blowing ourselves up! Not going to war with people over the issues we disagree with and for the sake of having power over them! Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God! We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness! God’s mission is to save the world! He is not hung up on people who disrespect, disregard, and curse Him, for we were those same people! He wants us to love on them and preach to them and pray for them, like Christ did for us!
Paul didn’t expect this. And when all the disciples scattered, Paul secretly followed behind the soldiers and priests as they took Jesus to be tried. Paul then secretly hid in the courtyard and tried to fit in with everyone else. He watched in silence as they falsely accused Him. And he watched in horror as they, in their drunken rage, violently assaulted His Lord and King. And it is at this point that the test came…
Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. 67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.”
68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying.” And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed.
69 And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, “This is one of them.” 70 But he denied it again.
And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, “Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.”
71 Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!”
72 A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.
Paul does poorly on the test because he failed to abide in the Word of God! He wasn’t listening and receiving what Christ was teaching Him about going to the cross. He trusted in his own thoughts and feelings. Then, instead of being with Christ, he was hiding out.
It is hard to suddenly come out and say that you are with Christ if you have been spending your time keeping your loyalty to God a secret! We end up with a struggling faith when we don’t come out in the beginning ready to stand as Christians, regardless of what the consequences may be. When we allow ourselves to hide and blend in with the crowd, the devil strategically sets up the right test for us that could be our very downfall.
We must learn to abide in Christ from the moment we open our eyes until we close them again. We must try to be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms to the Lord from our hearts all day long. We must try to pray without ceasing. This is how we arm ourselves. This is how we stay strong. This is how we face a test like Daniel’s, and we end up safe in the midst of hungry lions. Because we abide! Because we abide! Because we abide! We abide in His Word! We abide in His love! And perfect love casts away all fear! We cannot be afraid of our surroundings! We must not be ashamed of the gospel!
And if we fall, we must get back up and learn to abide all over again! He will keep us from falling and present us faultless, but we must cling to Him!