Monday, March 21, 2005

Meditation on despair

How could Peter deny Jesus at such a crisis point?

According to Kierkegaard, denial of love is only understood in a prior context of despair. In despair, we not only deny our true self, we also deny the true object of love -- the other.

Free from despair, we are free to dance in obedience and love. In despair, we choose less than our destiny.

Kierkegaard: “In nature, all is obedience, unconditional obedience.”
Jesus: “Behold the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin, yet Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these!”

Kierkegaard: “Despair is the sickness unto death." We despair when we are outside ourselves, when we cannot “transparently rest in the Power that established” us.

Despair prepares us for the chains of disobedience.

Peter: “I know not the Man!”

What despair to denial! God, have mercy on us…God have mercy on those who despair of You! Abba! Mercy! Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!

Peter: Leading up to the cross, Peter had done the ‘right things,’ yet had been steadfastly rebuked for them by the Lord.

A few weeks before, Jesus talks about death, and Peter tries to save Him: “This will not happen to you, Lord…no! We will not let it happen!” And Jesus says, “Get behind me, Satan.” Could anything have cut Peter more deeply? Could he truly have understood this rebuke?

On the night of betrayal, Jesus stoops to a servant’s task, a dignity far beneath the leader! Peter moves to protect Jesus’ dignity: “No! Not my feet, Lord!” And is rebuked: “You have no part in me unless I wash your feet.” “Then my whole body as well, Lord!”

Days before betrayal, Jesus warns them in ominous language, and says something about buying swords (Luke 22:36, et al). Peter obeys…and is the only disciple courageous enough to actually use the sword when Jesus was taken at night, but is rebuked for it by his Lord: “Cephas, those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” Then Jesus heals Malchus, the man he struck! Paradox.
Then Jesus let himself be taken
. What is going on?

And there in the courtyard of Caiaphas, Peter sees something that he never would have imagined: His leader, his Lord, letting himself be abused, tried and struck…when Peter knows the power in that Voice! This Voice brought Lazarus back from death only weeks before! This Voice felled the soldiers as dead men when they came to take Him. Yet…yet this powerful Lord refuses to speak! Letting himself be torn and falsely tried! What is happening? Dreams of the Kingdom! What kind of King? Peter's life is turned on its head: Despair beyond despair.

So the question comes: you also are with Him? NO! I know not this man? Who is this Man? Who is this Man? This cannot be my Messiah! I know Him not! I know Him not!




Prayer on despair: Lord, save your people from despair!

Lord, save us from despair…when we cannot see our way to you, when we cannot see what kind of King you are…save us! When dreams are darkened, and we cannot see the stars, please save us from despair! Mercy, Lord! We are human! Show us your ways, show us yourself clearly, or we despair! Lord! The battle is lonely. Lord, we are overmatched. We have no swords to combat theirs. Jesus, meet us, or we despair! Let us see your banner upon the mountain, and we will fight until the sword cleaves our hands. Make yourself known, my Lord and my God! Jesus, Son of David, have mercy! Save us from denial, save us from despair, Amen, Amen, Amen.

Lord Jesus, teach me to be like a lily, so that I do not despair of You…but grow and open to your sun, and rest in your rain. In your name I pray, Amen.

Lord Jesus, set my nature at one with You, cause me to be my true You, and with nature I will rise to obedience, unconditional obedience, Amen.



1 comment:

Allen Patterson said...

Loy, wonderful meditation! Lord save us indeed!

How did you post the picture at the top of the article? I put pics on with Hello! but how to do it within an article?