In America, ernest Christians often claim they would die for their beliefs while never having that opportunity. It’s an easy pledge to make when you’re not actually faced with that choice. But in many ways, dying for Christ is easier than living for Him. To die as a martyr, you make one choice to follow Jesus in death. To live as a disciple, you must make constant choices to follow Jesus in your daily life.
Most of those times when we make those big claims of anticipated martyrdom, we fail to do what Jesus has actually called us to do – live each day obediently for Him. The Apostle Peter was one who did both: live and die for his Savior. However, at one point in his life he claimed he would die for Him, but in reality he couldn’t even stay awake for Him.
Peter made two definite statements about his commitment to Christ. In Matthew 26:33, Peter told Jesus, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” After Jesus tells Peter that he will deny Him three times before morning, in Matthew 26:35 Peter tells Jesus that he knows better. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”
Everyone that knows the story, knows that within a few hours, Peter did deny Jesus three times. But as I was reading through this passage the other night to my sons, I noticed something – right after Peter’s bold claim Jesus asks him (along with James and John) to do something simple. He asked them to pray for Him, as he went off to pray by Himself.
Matthew 26:36-45 describes the whole scene. As Jesus leaves to pray about the cross that looms in the future, the disciples fall asleep instead of praying. Jesus comes back, chastises them and Peter specifically. Scripture says, “Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.'”
Jesus leaves them three times to go and pray alone. Three times He comes back and finds them sleeping. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened to Peter had he obeyed Jesus in the small thing – staying awake and praying. Do those three naps parallel the three times he denied Jesus later? If he did “watch and pray” like Jesus asked him, would he have not fallen “into temptation” by cursing that he never knew Jesus?
It reminds me that while God may (and has) called me to take some big step of obedience. Every step of obedience is important. If I’m not obedient in small things, there is no way I can be obedient in great things. I must trust Him daily in what I consider the small decisions of my life, if I ever hope to be obedient to Him when He calls me to take huge leaps of faith.
The roots of Peter’s denial began in a nap. Don’t let that small decision of disobedience hinder the great plans that God has for your future.