The night before he died, Jesus had supper with the disciples. A small gathering, the people who had been through the most with him.
From the time they started the evening, Peter had been kind of the center. He resisted the foot washing, he wanted to know who was the betrayer, he asked where Jesus was going, he stated his resolute following.
Jesus pushes back, until finally, after that last statement, he says to Peter, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!”
There had to be a stunned silence in that moment.
“Peter. If Peter was going to disown Jesus, what about the rest of everyone? What’s going to happen? Was this the end of the fellowship? Was this the end of the family? Is he going to fire us all? Is he going to strike us down with lightening? Is he going to shame us all?”
And that moment, that silence, is the context for these words of Jesus:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
It’s like Jesus was a mind reader. Or a heart reader.
In the words that followed, he made it clear that there is more that is real than Peter’s moment of denial. There is more that is real than Judas’s betrayal. There is more that is real than Jesus’ death.
All of those are things that we understand, that we experience, that we are sure of.
We understand uncertainty, we understand fear, we understand bravado and failure. We live them every day.
And we understand death. When I look at your faces, my dear friends, we understand death. Or at the very least, we know well the experience of death. Sudden, expected, from a distance, from up close. We know that grief, too well.
What we don’t know in the same way is that there is more that is real than these.
But Jesus did. In that moment of fear, Jesus gave the clearest explanation that he could of what was happening, of the next steps in the process.
“I’m leaving. I’m taking care of things. I’m coming back. You’ve seen me so You’ve seen the Father. And from now on, knowing me is enough. Live with courage in that relationship.”