“Will You?”

“Will You?”

Peter said to Him, “Lord… I will lay down my life for Your sake.” Jesus answered him, “Will you…?” (John 13:37-38)

The fairytale wedding is a child’s dream; the soulmate, a young adult’s lofty goal; marriage, the most satisfying struggle of a veteran spouse.

With the recent engagement of my oldest daughter, wedding planning has begun! And it’s got me thinking of my own big-day prep, many moons ago. I remember adamantly instructing the pastor during pre-marriage counseling to phrase the vow question at the ceremony as, “Do you?” because I wanted to answer, “I do”, not “I will”. It’s funny, though, because “of course you do – you’re getting married!” Wouldn’t the better question be “will you?” (continue to). Honestly, it’s the same question because if you truly do (love, honor, cherish), you absolutely will (forever). 

Sadly, we are corrupt human beings in a fallen, sinful world. And as much as we think we understand love, we don’t. We vow before God and man, “til death do us part”, yet we fail. I can’t help but think of Peter, here. In John 13:37-38, we read, “Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.” Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your lie for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.” Bold, brash Peter, so ready to make that commitment to Christ. Then, so quick to succumb to fear and forgo following, even swearing denial of any connection.

When the rooster crowed that second time, it was like an alarm clock waking Peter to the bitter truth of his betrayal. In that instant, when his eyes caught those of the One he abandoned, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt Peter saw love, not accusation. I know because I’ve seen that same acceptance in The Word when faced, in brokenness, with my own ugly sins. Jesus always bids, “Come”, even “Come back.” After Peter’s three denials and repentance, the Lord so beautifully restored him by offering three chances to answer in the affirmative, “Do you love Me?” Jesus already knew the answer, but Peter needed to know. God is not surprised by our sin. Even better, our failures become forgotten forever. Because of His Son’s sacrifice on the cross, every debt of the believer gets satisfied, so much so that when the Father looks at us, He sees Jesus! As the bride of Christ, we are one, wrapped in His robe of righteousness. 

Our Creator designed marriage as a gift to be treasured but it’s not always easy. In fact, it can be downright devastating when someone is unfaithful (by the way, that one is never God). People look to their own interests, being ruled by personal desires, perspectives, and fears. When this leads to abandonment or betrayal, it can crush one to the core. Only God is able wreck and renew our hearts simultaneously because He is holy, just, and wise, always looking to the best interests of His family.

Peter wished to lay down his life for Christ, and after that courtyard catastrophe, he did. Spurred by the scars of his own conscience, and led by the love of his Savior, Peter spent the remainder of his years sharing Jesus’ words and ways. He lived and breathed the Good News, and ultimately, he readily died for it. As fellow followers, we’ve all got a heavenly wedding feast approaching. Until then, we may not need to die for our faith, but we surely should live for it“Will you?”

SHINE, always