May 16th 2010

Courageous or Coward For Christ?

Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.’ But Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the other disciples said the same.”

Matthew 26:33-35 (NIV) 

Ever watch the film Spartacus? There’s a famous scene based on historical reality. Eventually the Roman army defeats Spartacus and his rebels. The general, Marcus Crassus, announces to them that all will be spared crucifixion if only they will identify and hand over Spartacus, whom none of the Roman leaders has ever seen face-to-face. After a deafening silence Spartacus stands up and declares, “I am Spartacus.” A moment later, the rebel next to him stands up and says, “I am Spartacus.” Then, one by one, all the rebels get to their feet and shout, “I am Spartacus.” In the end, all of them are crucified. 

Certainly the story has been embellished by Hollywood. But even so, it’s inspiring testimony to the loyalty of followers willing to stand up for their leader. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends and disciples, was absolutely sure of his loyalty. Well, we know how that story ended. When Jesus was arrested, those who had so vigorously promised to support him to the end, denied him or ran away and watched from a safe distance. 

But let’s not be too critical. Would we have been any different? We like to hope we would have, but in moments of weakness there are times when we really don’t “stand up and be counted.” 

It might not be a life or death matter. Maybe simply telling the truth. Or standing by a principle, or resisting a temptation. It might be refusing to go along with the crowd when they are doing something we know is wrong, or it could be failing to tell others of Jesus’ goodness when an opportunity presents itself. No one likes to be thought of as different. But being a follower of Jesus means identifying with him and letting Jesus shape how we think and live. That might mean there are times when we have to be willing to stand up for what we believe, no matter what the consequences. 

Peter had trouble at first, but eventually he became the rock Jesus intended him to be. We might be having trouble too, but as we grow in Jesus with the Holy Spirit’s help, our actions eventually will be consistent with our hearts. 

Prayer

Holy Father, we are such flawed creatures who need your strength and resolve to stand up and be counted as Christians. It’s easy to run and hide, or duck—but that’s how we are. Help us to change to become as you would have us be, Father, men and women of courage and strength. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen 

Study by Joseph Tkach 

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