“Peter said, ‘Lord why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” (John 13:33)
We are familiar with the story. Jesus is trying to tell the disciples what will soon take place; that he would be with them only a little longer and where he was going they could not follow. Peter protests, pledging his loyalty and that he will follow Jesus anywhere, even if it meant giving up his life.
Peter was no doubt sincere in his intention. Then the unexpected happened. Interrupting the disciples’ sleep in the Garden of Gethsemane, 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, he denies that he knows Jesus three separate times.
How often have our good intentions been laid aside when faced with challenging circumstances or just the procrastination from our own sloth? We tell God or someone we are going to do something and then we don’t do it. The examples are numerous.
Our greatest failure with good intentions likely manifests 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 do so.
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 and love are similar. They both require action to become 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 on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all 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 gifts of the Holy Spirit and God’s grace, we too, can see our good intentions become a reality.
As Jesus said, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ “No.’” (Mt. 5:37)