“Peter said, ‘Master, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” (John 13:37)
We may be familiar with the story. Jesus is trying to tell the disciples what will soon take place; that he will be with them only a little longer and where he is going they cannot follow. Peter protests, pledging his loyalty and that he will follow Jesus anywhere, even if it means laying down his life.
Peter was no doubt sincere in his intention. Then the unexpected happened. Temple guards came in the dark of night with torches, clubs and swords to arrest Jesus. In the chaos of the moment, the disciples flee and Peter “follows from a distance.” Later in the courtyard of the high priest, Peter denies that he knows Jesus three separate times.
How often have our good intentions been laid aside when faced with challenging circumstances or just due to procrastination from our own sloth? We tell God or someone we are going to do something and then we fail to do it. The examples are numerous.
Our greatest failure with good intentions may manifest itself with the sin in our life. Many of our sins are recurring. We confess them or commit not to do them again, and then we do. Good intentions are also negated when we fail to keep our word. We commit to our family that we will be home for the family evening meal, and then we let a work demand get in the way, not just once in a while, but on a regular basis. We say to a friend we have not seen for a while, “Let’s have lunch.” Then, we never follow-up to schedule it. We commit to attend one of our children’s or grandchildren’s sporting events, and then let an intervening circumstance take precedence. We commit to have a prayer time before breakfast, and then fail to get out of bed in time.
Good intentions, like love, require action to be fulfilled. As we know, Peter later became a bold spokesman for the early church. Tradition tells us that he was martyred by being crucified upside down. What made the difference? The Holy Spirit! After his resurrection, Jesus told the disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the gift God had promised: “In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:4, 8)
The Good News is that this same Holy Spirit is available to us just as it was to Peter and the disciples. With the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s grace, we too, can see our good intentions become a reality.
Are you sitting on any good intentions that need to be fulfilled?