Because of a lack of commitment and knowing the cost and what it meant to believe in Jesus Christ, both Peter and his friends abandon Jesus at a time when Jesus needed them the most. Before the hour of his trial, Jesus had brought up the conversation regarding their faith in him because he wanted his disciples to know they had not yet placed their confidence in who he was as God’s son.
Jesus had asked his disciples the question as to who they say he was, Peter answered, “The Son of the living God” but after confessing Jesus was the son of the living God, Peter would later deny Jesus three times even after a show of defiance against those who came to arrest Jesus.
In response to Peter’s defiant act, Jesus knowing Peter’s heart, said “He that lives by the sword shall die by the sword, “ Because he knew Peter did not understand who he Jesus was, nor was he prepared to give up his life for Jesus. Through his response to Peter’s action, Jesus was communicating to his disciples they may believe they are willing to give up their lives for him, for Jesus knew deep down in their hearts when they are put to the test they will deny him.
Knowing the heart of Peter and that of his disciples, Jesus through his rebuke of Peter was communicating he understand their hearts were set on fighting for their cause to destroy their oppressors in an effort to restore the Davidic kingdom, and that they were not willing to lay down their lives for him in whom they say they believed. They were willing to fight for the things of the world and were willing to walk and be with Jesus, but when it comes to trusting Jesus as God’s son, they were reluctant.
What the disciples of Jesus Christ were expecting from Jesus, was a Messiah that would lead them into battle. The disciples of Jesus were expecting the Messiah to appear and destroy their enemies, they were looking for a David like Messiah who was a warrior behind whom they could stand to take on the Roman empire. But when they saw that Jesus was not what they expected, instead of standing and showing they are in support of his message and policies against the world, the disciples of Jesus abandon Jesus leaving him in the hands of his enemies.
The disciples did not yet know what it meant to believe in Jesus, they were not yet willing to stand behind a Messiah willing to allow his enemies to drag him off and have him crucified. “How can Jesus be our Messiah, and why would he not allow us to fight for him?” but little did they know Jesus was about to confirm once and for all who he was at his resurrection. And it was not until Jesus came up from the grave as he had told them were, the disciples of Jesus willing to completely trust in him to now believe he was indeed God’s son.
Coming to this knowledge and seeing Jesus after his resurrection, the disciples were now willing to be identified as a true disciple of Jesus. They became bold in the Spirit of Christ as they go out in obedience proclaiming the gospel of Jesus. The disciples of Jesus were now true friends of Jesus, and through their actions have answered the question and showed whether they were true friends of Jesus.
Jesus had asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” and before the resurrection, their response to Jesus was, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” And hearing their response Jesus wanted to know who they believed he was, so he said, “But what about you?” “Who do you say I am?” To which Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” But would later come to deny Jesus three times.
Peter denied Jesus, and his disciples abundant him to his enemies because they feared for their lives and because they had not completely placed their confidence in Jesus as the Son of God. They say they believed in him but had a different expectation and outlook for what they believed about Jesus. And although they say they believed he was God’s son, they had yet to show they believed by the way they lived.
But after the resurrection, their lives began to reflect what they truly believed about Jesus. The disciples of Jesus were no more in hiding but were out boldly proclaiming Jesus as God’s son and the expected Messiah. Finally, they understood the prophecies and why Jesus allowed his enemies to take him by force, it was to pay the price for sins and to set his people free. Jesus could have called ten thousand angels to deliver him, but the purpose for which he came was to redeem mankind from their sins by dying on the cross.
Faith in Jesus was now in motion, the disciples met with Jesus after his resurrection stayed in Jerusalem and received the Holy Spirit. And on that day, over a thousand or more came to believe in Jesus Christ, and so what it meant to believe in Jesus was not only to say we believe, it was to proclaim the gospel, to follow Jesus in death, and to be identified with him as our King.
What it meant to believe in Jesus was to do what we are instructed to do; it is to accept Jesus and to carry out his instructions as servants in his court because we know who Jesus is in relation to ourselves. If we say we believe, it is to mean we will and are doing what God commands we do, which is to serve in the kingdom of God. It is to bring forth fruit in obedience to God through Jesus Christ, and it is to trust in who Jesus is as we stand on his authority.