Sunday: Psalm 118; Zechariah 9.9-17; Matthew 21.1-11; Matthew 26-27

From: Sally Jackson

What stuck with me in today’s reading is Matthew 26.30-46, when Jesus goes with his disciples to the Mount of Olives before his betrayal. Jesus knows them perfectly well—that though they may love him, they will scatter from their shepherd when he is taken from them. Saying this, though, they deny it. Each in turn promises to Jesus that “‘Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!’” (v. 35). Peter may be most bold here, going one step farther than his companions: he promises that he is stronger than the other disciples. Though they may fall away, he could never fall away himself! (v. 33) 

How short-lived does Peter’s strength of will appear to be, for moments later we find him (and James and John, the sons of Zebedee) unable to sit with Jesus through the night, instead falling asleep. This is probably the most striking thing about this passage, because those who have spent a week proclaiming Jesus as Messiah, learning from him, and communing with him still within just one night discover how weak and distracted and arrogant they are. They promise to stay near to Jesus, but just minutes later fall asleep. They don’t pray (through the night) against temptation, and they then deny that they know this Jesus.

I think each year when we get to the Easter season, I believe that I am revived in my faith in Jesus. But even if that’s true in part, my momentary enthusiasm and conviction is probably a lot like Peter’s. I can hear myself convincing myself that I wouldn’t be one to fall away from the Lord, or to become quiet in faith, or scared, or apathetic. I know that at this season, in the midst of Easter, I forget how year-round I just simply don’t sit and watch with Jesus. I become tired, and I close my eyes, and I forget to pray, asking Jesus to stay with me. I speak up less than I ought to different folks in my life about what I believe. I fail to pursue Jesus and his Word. Probably even sometime in this very next week, just like most—even this Holy Week—I will again forget this story of which I am a part. I’ll forget even in the most significant of weeks that he was on that tree because of me.

I know the end of this beautiful story, and, as it should, it definitely revives hope in me. But my biggest prayer for this week is that I would remember how much I am like Peter and the disciples on the Mount of Olives. I pray that I would recognize my own arrogance and weakness and false certainty that I am more loyal to my Lord than any of my brothers, and that especially in this week I might see how I too have fled from Jesus in my own ways, and have driven him to the cross.

I'm the tallish Sally from the evening service (not to be confused with the smallish Sally from the morning service), and I live in Cambridge by Fresh Pond. My two favorite “hobbies” are probably people and food, so you can imagine that I’m pretty pumped that Church of the Cross Easter feasts are coming up—see you there!