It never fails. Having read the Passion passages countless times and having preached seemingly every conceivable angle of the Easter Story each year these last twenty years, it never fails… God shows me something new. I’ve devoted these last couple weeks in the pulpit to the ugly side of Easter – the betrayal, the blood. A few days ago I spoke on the forsaking of Christ and how its happening again today in the America church.
Rather than just jump right to the verse from the cross where Jesus cries out – My God, my God, why have you forsaken me – I pointed out how the forsaking actually started earlier that week. In the Garden after Judas betrayed him we read “all the disciples deserted him and fled.” Then Peter disowned Jesus. But there is a key moment even before these key moments.
Right after Jesus foretells that Peter will betray him three times, Jesus is in the garden crying out in agony to God asking for this cup of suffering to pass. He returns and finds his disciples sleeping. The Bible tells us this happened
three times. Three times!? Hmm. Here’s the part I hadn’t seen before: “Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.” HE ASKED PETER?!?!
Do you see it? Before Peter ever forsook Jesus publicly, he forsook Jesus privately in the place of prayer. In the end times, the Bible says, many will turn away from Christ. I’m convinced prayer meeting attendance is a better indicator of the victory or defeat of the American Church, not anything else. Once we forsake Him privately in the place of prayer, it’s only a matter of time before we do it for all to see.