Scripture: 30 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” 33 Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” 34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” 35 “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.
[Matthew 26:30-35 NLT]
Some people have a hard time with finality. One of the greatest examples of this was basketball great Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan, or “His Airness” as he became known, decided to retire in 1994 after he and the Chicago Bulls had won three championships in a row. Michael told everyone that he was done playing professional basketball. In other words, Michael said he would never play again. Of course, Michael Jordan did play again. Michael and the Chicago Bulls went on to win another three straight championships before he retired again in 1999. This time it would be different and Jordan would never play again. But wait … there’s more. Michael Jordan came out of retirement again and played the 2002-2003 season with the Washington Wizards. He did finally retire for good at age 40 following that one season with the Wizards.
Michael Jordan is not the only one who has issues with the word never. You have probably had someone tell you, “I would never do that!” Then one day you learn that, in fact, they did do that. Before Debbie and I had children we would use the word never more liberally. We said things like, “Our child will never crawl under the table,” or “We will never let our kids stay up that late,” or “We will never let our kids cry uncontrollably like that.” Well, when the kids came along the word never seemed to change its meaning. For all of these reasons, and many more, we need to be careful of how we use the word never. We need to be very careful, indeed.
Peter was quick to use the word never. In our Scripture for today Peter used this word with Jesus. Jesus had just finished telling his disciples that they would all desert him. Peter’s instantaneous reply is, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” Yes! Peter is that guy. In front of all of his fellow disciples he tells Jesus that the others probably will desert you, but not me. Peter uses the word never. Jesus quickly brings Peter back to reality. “The truth is, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times,” Jesus replied. Never is not a word Peter should have used. I would need to offer Peter a line from one of my favorite movies, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
How often do we use that word? We may think we would never deny Christ, but do we? The answer is yes, we do. Every follower of Jesus Christ has denied him at some point. The truth is we all deny Jesus multiple times a day. We do so when we don’t listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We deny Christ when we choose the advice of the world over the advice of the Bible. We desert Jesus when we lean on our own understanding instead of acknowledging the Lordship of Christ. When following Jesus we should avoid using the word "never." Instead, follow Jesus always and expect the unexpectable.
Prayer: God, today I lean on you. Lead me where you want me to go. Give me your understanding and allow me to see through your eyes. Through the power and presence of your Holy Spirit I will avoid the word never and ever look for your will for me. I am yours and my life is yours. In the name of Jesus. Amen.