“Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have not been true to me, and have neither remembered me nor taken this to heart? (Is 57,11) And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”So he went out and wept bitterly. (Mt 26:75)
If – if only we would love, trust and fear God above all things! All would be good and we’d be right back in paradise – in perfect righteousness, with divine image restored and at lasting peace at last. If only! But – and what a miserable but it is – but we don’t – not even a single week, day or even hour do we come close to loving, trusting and fearing him as much as we should and as would be appropriate and due to him in his goodness, mercy and caring. And we ourselves would probably also agree and venture, that that’s exactly what we would want to do: „If all others desert you, I will stand right here by you and never give way – not me, not never – because I’m so prepared and ready to even die with you. No question or doubt in my mind!“ Well, you know the story. A little girl, quite harmless questions really, not much more than rustling leaves in the evening breeze, a warming fire and a relaxed if boisterous bunch gathered around the flames, but dread and fear are just too much for poor, miserable and sinful souls – without lasting trust, too much doubt, fear and dread as well. We just can’t remain steadfast, instead fall quicker than a wink. A simple rooster (you find them on most church steeples in reformed lands because of this) announces the dreadful failure time and again and that just a few hours after the high and exalted promises and now in a flash all that highflying self-assurance and cocky reliance falling apart. Quite humiliating, shameful and disgraceful really. Couldn’t you even stay awake a few extra hours? Couldn’t you stand up to that maid? Oh yes, the excuses are many and ready at hand: The party was just too much, and the excitement and exhilaration of the magnificent entry under cheers from big and small just too much to stomach and then that grand finale in the upper rooms – even after him washing our feet and then giving his most precious and holy new testament to hold and keep us – but it all just didn’t meet the test and our own strength and passion and enthusiasm didn’t carry far – never mind through. No longer true and faithful, but trying to hide behind ignorance, betraying any previous knowledge or compromising ties in history. Not remembering him or at least not wanting too really any more, rather choosing not wanting to known him ever before or again! If – if only … yes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and failed commitments and vows. It doesn’t only happen once, but three times, again and again adding up to countless calamities. Reason enough to wail and lament, cry and weep most bitterly if not despairingly.
Our Lord Jesus Christ reminds the disciples on the way to Emmaus, how all this suffering and mercy, death and dying, burial and descent into hell had to be and come about – starting off with Moses and going through all the Prophets and Psalms. The apostles themselves recorded this faithfully, so that we would not despair, but rather like St. Peter repent of our faithlessness and readiness to deny and betray, regret our lack of trust, courage and confessional spirit and anew put our hope on the one, who walks on the stormy waters and prevents us from sinking, who is raised from the grave and is alive to carry us through thick and thin and even through death’s dark vale. He’s the one, who opens our eyes to see that there are just much more and victorious on our side than could ever be against us. For if the living God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is for us, what could be against us? Nothing and nobody can pull us from his caring hands for he is greater than all and all and everything is in his hand. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. Therefore don’t be afraid. Peace be with you – now and always + Amen.
1. My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
2. When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; In every high and stormy gale My anchor holds within the veil. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
3. His oath, His covenant, and blood Support me in the whelming flood; When every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
4. When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found, Clothed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne! On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less“ by Edward Mote, 1797-1874