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How to be Steadfast

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We are given a pretty detailed description of what happened to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, throughout the night and on to the his actual crucifixion. Compiling each account, we see an interesting progression of the events that take place.

During the course of the supper, in which Jesus had established the pattern and command of participation, Jesus tells his disciples that they would all fall away, to which Peter exclaimed that though they (the others) might fall away, he would never fall away! Jesus then tells Peter, that same night he would deny Jesus three times. Peter responds by proclaiming that he would follow Jesus even unto death!

A little later on, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus tells Peter and the sons of Zebedee “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And then the goes a little further, falls on his face and begins to pray. After an hour he comes back to find Peter and the other apostles, sleeping. Remember, these are the same ones who just told Jesus that they would die with him, if need be. Granted, they do not know what really is happening at this time, and that Jesus would be given up to be crucified shortly, but he did say that he was sorrowful unto death. I am not sure that I can say I have ever been so sorrowful I felt like dying. Jesus has to cope with some serious emotions at this point, clearly struggling. He returns a second time to find the same thing – sleeping disciples. Again he returns a third time, after praying the same words, finally telling the disciples to sleep and rest later on for he was now going to be betrayed.

I guess Peter got a second wind after sleeping because now he seems to have a bolt of energy, ready to fight those who would be arresting Jesus – to the point of actually injuring one of them, cutting off the ear. My guess is he was probably aiming for his head. Nevertheless, Peter was charged up and ready to go.

Fast forward to the beginning of Jesus’ “trial.” He had been brought before the High Priest, scribes and elders who wanted to put him to death. I am sure it was quite a scene, as we know that they were trying desperately to find some sort of false testimony about him, bringing forth person after person in the hopes that something might stick. Finally (Matthew’s account actually says at last) two people came and offered their false testimony, and it led to Jesus proclaiming his place as the Son of God.

Meanwhile, Peter has been following this whole chain of events at a distance, watching all these things happen. A servant girl approached Peter and said that she recognized him as one of Jesus’ followers to which he denies. Again he denies Jesus twice more to different people, in front of everyone. Keep in mind that this is the same guy who had just lopped off an ear of one of the people who was arresting Jesus. What happened? It probably just a few hours since that happened – we know because right after he denied Christ, the rooster crowed signaling morning.

Let’s recap

1. Peter tells Jesus that even though everyone else would fall away that he would follow Jesus to death!
2. Just a little later the same night Peter can not seem to stay awake with Jesus, even though he said he was so sad, he felt like dying (pretty serious.)
3. After Jesus returns and wakes Peter and the others a second time, he is arrested and Peter jumps into action trying to fight everyone and chops a guy’s ear off.
4. Again, Peter now denies even knowing Jesus while he is put on a mockery of a trial.

So you are probably thinking at this point, “Hey, what’s with all the Peter bashing?” Yes I know I am hitting the topic pretty hard and definitely not being too fair to Peter – one of the greatest Christians the world has ever seen. But, I do have a point.

What does it mean to be steadfast? What are some synonyms that come to mind when you hear the word? How about unflinching? I imagine a hardened military General who has seen his fair share of battle, someone who will not jump or run when something very intimidating happens. Rigid is also a good synonym for steadfast. To be rigid is to be unbreakable, no matter what happens or how you get tossed about.

A lot of times we are very similar to Peter. Sometimes we are excited and rearing to go, ready to tell every single person we know about Christ. Ready to dive into Hades and bring the gospel to Satan himself! And then other times we, sadly, might even go so far – try to avoid conversations about Christ, our Faith, what we believe in. Some even, like Peter, deny their Faith entirely.

I like Psalm 1:1-4 –

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

A tree planted by streams of water… never lacking the nourishment that it needs in order to grow and become strong. A tree that is planted by streams of water is certainly going to be steadfast. How do we harden ourselves, become more rigid, and gain steadfastness? “Delight in the law of the Lord, and meditate on it day and night.” The Bible is our stream of water, and we are the trees.

Plant yourself in the law of the lord and you will never wither, being steadfast always.

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