Sundays in Mark (55) The fall of Peter predicted, big promises and modern worship songs

Back to our simple Sunday reflections in the Gospel of Mark.

This week ‘the fall of Peter’ in Mark 14:27-31. [Nearly synched with Easter but not quite!]

One of the many impressive things about the Gospels is their searing honesty about the disciples.

At times they are courageous, bold, and powerfully used within Jesus’ mission of proclaiming and demonstrating the kingdom of God.

At other times they are confused, mistaken and deeply fearful.

At all times they struggle (and ultimately fail) to understand the identity and apparent Messianic purposes of the enigmatic, charismatic, preacher and healer from Nazareth.

And who can blame them? – the idea of a crucified Messiah was utterly inconceivable.

And this portrait of the disciples is magnified and sharpened in every respect when it comes to Peter: the boldest, the most impulsive, the one who is first to confess Jesus as Messiah, the Son of God.

And here, predicted by Jesus himself, the first to deny his Master, despite his fierce protestations of loyalty, spurred no doubt by a deep sense of hurt at Jesus’ devastating words.

But notice that Peter’s promise to follow Jesus even to death is also made by all the others. Peter is the ‘lens’ through which the story of the failure of Jesus’ closest followers is told. Within a few hours, their fervent promises would lie in tatters.

A couple of thoughts come to mind here on worship songs and I’d be interested if you have any comments:

1. In more than a few songs Christians sing there are fervent protestations of utter loyality and complete obedience to Jesus.

Now I know worship songs are songs , they are not systematic theology. And if Jesus is Lord before whom every knee will bow it is absolutely right that his followers give him their unqualified love and obedience.

But do you ever feel uncomfortable singing such songs? Sometimes while singing I have a nagging thought that this sounds very much like Peter’s desperate promise before his fall. They seem devoid of the reality of human sin and failure and our daily need for God’s sustaining, gracious and empowering Spirit. It is all about how ‘my’ complete allegience will win the day.

Lyrics like this:

Say the word and I will sing for You
Over oceans deep, I  will follow
If each star was a song, and every breath of wind of praise
It would still fail by far to say all my heart contains
I simply live, I simply live for You 

2. The other thought is that such promises are only revealed to be genuine or not when they are tested.

Millions of Christians around the world face persecution, discrimination, intimidation, violence and death for following Jesus. All of us, wherever we live, will inevitably face times of suffering, sadness and loss.

A prayer this Sunday, is for the strength and grace of God to sustain us to keep believing, keep following and keep worshipping even in the midst of trials and grief, as well as in the good times.

I think this song captures this tension of holding on to the goodness and blessing of God whatever comes. It could be read as ‘overconfident’ – but I like to sing it as a prayer. Help me Lord to bless your name in the darkest place as well as when the Sun is beaming down its golden rays.

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

27“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

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