These are the disciples. These guys that run away, betray and deny Jesus…they are his “boys.” These guys followed Jesus for 3 years. They gave up everything: jobs, family, other friends, religion, culture…and they followed Jesus. They saw him do amazing miracles. They watched him return crazy people back to their right mind, they saw paralyzed people stand up and walk, they ate with 5000 people from a basket of bread and a few fish, etc… They followed him even when he broke cultural rules: They broke the strict rules of the Sabbath when Jesus did, they cavorted with sinners, with women, with Samaritans, and they followed him in spite of what must have been fear. And then in a moment, this gang instigated by the chief priests, show up and these same disciples bolt the scene, they scatter and flee. This must have been terrifying on a whole new level for them. But not Peter, Peter draws his sword.
I love reading about Peter. I appreciate his story and his path through life, walking alongside Jesus. I’m not like Peter, because I’m too afraid. I’m too tentative. I’m not the bold risk taker that is Peter. I love Peter’s failures, because he fails in the way I would like to fail: Big, Bold, Crash and Burn. Peter’s path to this point in the scripture, as he attempts to defend Jesus in Gethsemane, is Big and Bold and he is about to Crash and Burn.
As the tentative fearful, indecisive, slow-moving, scaredy-pants that I am, Peter’s proclamation at the last supper feels so AWESOME. Jesus says all of you will betray me and Peter stands up and says, “Even if it happens to everyone else, it won’t happen to me Lord!” I imagine Jesus smiling as a knowing parent smiles with pity at their child just as they promise never to take a nap or never to like the taste of Fois Gras or never to kiss a girl, or never to have any rules for their own kids…etc… Jesus knows that Peter will absolutely deny him, but he doesn’t ruin Peter’s bold moment for him.
And now here in the garden of Gethsemane Peter finds himself facing a mob of people trying to arrest his friend, his savior, his Lord Jesus. Bleary-eyed, just awakened by Jesus from his third nap of the night, Peter swings his dagger to protect Jesus and apparently misses, because all he can manage to cut is the ear of his target. He seems brave, but then…Crash and Burn. While Jesus is being questioned, mocked, falsely accused, and beaten, Peter faces his own test.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,”
“This fellow is one of them.”
“Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”
Peter melts under the pressure
“I don’t know this man you’re talking about”
It is hard to blame these guys for running away, for denying their participation with Jesus, or even for Judus’ betrayal. Everyone is doing and saying things that are perfectly rational and reasonable. The guys are just scared. Sure they are faithful and they are steadfast, but this is crazy: Mobs, high priests, seeing that Jesus’ actions by our earthly definitions are not rational or reasonable. The disciples are simply admitting defeat. The game is over. We understand the rational and reasonable responses of the disciples, because we would be scared too. We would see the same defeat. Fortunately for them and for us, Jesus knows this is not game over but rather “game on!”
We just spent the weekend with the Imus family and Jamie was reading a book called, Antifragile, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Jamie said that Taleb posits the idea that we do not have a word for the opposite of fragile. We think of the words “sturdy” “strong” “stable” but actually, when something is fragile, it is something that degrades, gets worse, or breaks down in the event of a catastrophe. So the opposite is something that gets stronger, better, or grows at the instance of a triggering or activating event. Any misinterpretation of this hypothesis or other misinterpretation of Antifragile is squarely on my shoulders…Is anything less intellectual than “quoting” a book that I have never even opened?
Clearly for the disciples this mob arrest of Jesus is a catastrophe. They are fragile, just like the rest of us. Clearly for Jesus this is the catalyst to show his ultimate example of Antifragile.