A cross on a brick wall.

Day 72: Laying Down My Life

Read: John 18:12-27

I think I speak for all mankind when I say I’m not perfect. I fail all the time and I hurt those I love. I’m learning and growing, but no matter how much I try, I still fall short. Thankfully, my story doesn’t end here. It’s not about me and my failures. It’s about Jesus’ grace at work in and through me. There’s hope for a life beyond this repetition of failure in the One who laid down His life for us.

Peter really believed. He had followed Jesus and knew through-and-through that this was the Messiah, the One sent from God to deliver His people. Peter loved Jesus. He was always quick to speak and eager to prove to Jesus that he really loved Him. In a previous chapter (John 13:36-38), we read a prophecy from Jesus. He was talking about leaving, when suddenly Peter freaked out and shouted, “No, Lord! There’s no place I wouldn’t follow you to… Even to death!” He promises with passionate zeal, “I will lay down my life for you!” Jesus responded by giving Peter a sneak peek into the future, “Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.’”

I always feel a little pain in my chest when I imagine Peter’s reaction to Jesus’ words. That pain intensifies when I read Jesus’ words fulfilled in verse 27, “and at once the rooster crowed.” Peter, the same man who had promised to lay down his life for Jesus, was now ashamed of Him. Scared and embarrassed, he did not want to even be associated with Jesus.

While this was happening, Jesus was inside the court with the corrupt high priest. He was alone and shackled, but was patiently and calmly answering their accusations and insults. How was Jesus able to bear up under this onslaught of injustice? Because He was the Son of God, receiving power from the Father to patiently suffer the unbearable. Jesus persevered because He knew the value of what laying down His life would mean. He was obedient to the Father, fulfilling prophecy, in order to save us all. 

Peter, on the other hand, was not ready to lay down his life for Jesus. But Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested, falsely accused, humiliated, and killed for him. Jesus was humble, even submissive, proving the greatness of His obedience and the power of His divine love. He allowed the soldiers, officers, and high priest to mock and condemn Him, all for the man right outside the door denying Him. Jesus endured this, not only for Peter, but for all of us. He did it for the ones who say they love Him but shy away from sincere obedience, as well as the ones who promise to spread the message of His grace to the world, but can’t seem to share what God has done in our lives with our neighbors because we’re too busy. 

Jesus is our loving Savior, who forgives our sins and heals our failures. It’s not like He doesn’t know we are going to fail, but He gives us grace to overcome anyway. He takes us as we are and fills us with the same strength the Father gave Him to persevere in the face of impossible odds. He calls us back to Himself and helps us get up, clean ourselves up, and keep going after we have fallen. 

Jesus isn’t just our savior, He is our example. When we don’t feel brave enough to be associated with Him in front of others, and when we’d rather let ourselves be distracted than follow Him, consider again Jesus’s words: “I have spoken openly to the world…” “I have said nothing in secret…” “Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” Take a moment to meditate and be encouraged about this, that Jesus hasn’t left it to our imaginations, but has revealed Himself so we can tell the world with confidence who we know Him to be.

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