From Darkness to Light

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

The room was dark. The disciples panted for breath, making no effort to light a lamp. All found their own corner or piece of wall to hunker down and ease their pounding hearts, the sound of those approaching boots still in their memories.

The sight of Judas walking to Jesus in the garden haunted them. The audacity of him to betray Jesus with a kiss. How could he? But then, how could each follower of the Master slip back into the bushes to hide? Not to mention running away in the night. They were betrayers too, in a way.

Matthew heard a whimper, heavy sighs, quiet weeping, but no one spoke a word. Each burying himself in his own emotions.

What would happen to Jesus now? Where were they taking him? Helplessness bore down on each man, fear and worry. Darkness.

Finally, Matthew decided he should count to be sure they all made it. He lit the lamp and counted. “There are nine of us,” he said. “Judas is gone. Peter and John are missing.” The others looked around the room. Matthew was right. Something to think about, besides themselves.

Exhaustion at this late hour overtook them and each man fell into fretful sleep.

Sometime after the crow of the morning cock, Peter came staggering into the room, wild with grief and anxiety. Shortly after, John came in with the news that after a mock trial of the Sanhedrin, the religious leaders had taken Jesus to Pilate. The leaders were stirring up the crowd to urge Pilate to crucify Jesus. Could this madness get any worse?

Darkness at noon.

Three hours later, John came back with the horrifying account of Jesus’ death: crown of thorns, flogging, dragging his own crossbeam, nailed to the cross, his mother weeping for her son.

Darkness.

Night came again.  Then the long Sabbath day. No word. No peace. More agonizing questions.

[You and I have experienced darkness in the last few weeks. Questions. How long will we be held in, hardy able to get out? Fear of the invisible virus sneaking around to destroy us. We wait.]

On the first day of the week, strange reports from the women, the tomb empty —body stolen? Risen, they said. Peter and John run to see for themselves. Yes, an empty tomb, but the men couldn’t wrap their heads around the word “risen.”

That evening, in the midst of their locked-door room, Jesus himself appears to them. His first words?

“Peace be with you!” He showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed. John 20:19

Glorious light! Joyful light came into that room and into their hearts.

            

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21

That glorious light comes to us on this Easter week—even in quarantine—and all through the year. He says to us, “Peace be with you.” He sends us as well. Make your phone calls, send your letters, cards, emails, and texts. Give your donations, make your masks, pick up groceries, whatever he calls you to do. Walk in the light!

A blessed Easter to you,

~ Joyce ~

Peter – Defense to Denial

          Searching His Word

                       Seeking His Heart

Again, we will see the ups and downs of Peter’s personality.

Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane, a favorite place to get away for prayer, but this will be His most agonizing prayer of all as He submits to the will of God. He asks Peter, James, and John to keep watch and pray. The late night and weariness of fear overtake them and they fall asleep even after Jesus pleads with them to keep watch.

Soon they are wide awake when they hear a mob of temple guards, scribes, and Pharisees approaching. Their lit torches cast frightening shadows through the trees while swords clang at their sides.

Jesus questions the intruders. “Who is it you want?” Though at first startled, the guards pick themselves up and push forward. Peter jumps in to defend Jesus. He asks,

“Lord, should we strike with our swords?” Luke 22:49

But in typical Peter-style, he is already swinging his sword and ends up cutting off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest.

Then Jesus answered, No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. Luke 22:51

Jesus is arrested and taken away. Before we condemn Peter for his rash behavior, remember two things—his good intention was to defend Jesus. Secondly, other than John, Peter determines to follow the crowd all the way to the high priest’s house. The other disciples flee for their lives.

Jesus is taken first to the previous high priest, Annas, then bound and led to Caiaphas. While Jesus is with Annas, Peter warms himself by a fire with some of the servants. A woman recognizes him and accuses him of being one of the disciples which he flatly denies.

A man recognizes his Galilean accent and repeats the accusation. Again, Peter denies with great emphasis that he doesn’t even know him. About the time Jesus is led through the court yard to Caiaphas, a third person makes the same charge. Peter protests, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” 

Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” Luke 22:60-61

Within the course of late night to early morning, Peter has shifted from defending Jesus with a sword to denying him. Now, in despair, he “went out and wept bitterly.” This is an all-time low for our friend.

We reach those low points in our lives—defeats, crushing blows, humiliation, harsh words, bitter attitudes, heart-breaking news. Sometimes we must go through humiliating experiences to become what God intends for us, so take heart, Peter will eventually become that powerful rock like his name. Remember, God named him not for what he was, but for what he could be. Same for you and me.

~ Joyce ~