Another thing about those last chapters of the book of Mark....
I was thinking again about how Jesus's disciples betrayed, denied, and deserted Him. When Jesus was tried, mocked, whipped, and condemned to die, He was on His own. No one stood up with Him. Nobody testified on His behalf. No one defended Him. And when Jesus went to the cross, He went alone. Sure, several of His disciples were present among the crowd, on the side lines, in the shadows - but they were not identifying themselves with Jesus. None were testifying to the truth of who He was. There were no Amen!-s of affirmation or encouragement.
Still, Jesus went to the cross. He did what He came to do. Jesus did the great work of redemption. He made atonement for His people.
Some folks believe that salvation is a joint effort between man and God. Jesus did His part - dying on the cross for our sins. Now, we need to do our part - believing, professing, being baptized, living holy lives. I try hard to be as righteous as I can, and Jesus will step in where I fall short. It's the old equation: Faith + Works = Righteousness.
"You could say we're like two peas in a pod.....We're a team, me and God." Catchy song, Mr. Turner, but it's a lie. Peas in a pod...they are alike. Made of similar stuff. God is so completely Other from us that Scripture says it would destroy us to stand in His presence. When confronted with the almighty God of the universe, the prophets quaked in terror, crying things like "I am undone!" - they did not sing catchy tunes about peas. No, "me and God" are nothing alike. And we're not a team, either. God isn't one of my buddies, running out on the field of life with me after a motivating cheer and a High 5.
Jesus didn't save Peter because Peter believed and stuck with Him. Jesus saved Peter because
He loved Peter.
Remember Peter's "I do not know this man..."? Jesus died for a man who was morally and spiritually bankrupt, a man who was broken and confused and humiliated. Peter couldn't even choke out a whisper, "I know Jesus." Peter could not bring one single thing to the cross to help atone for his sins. All he could do was watch.
Peter - indeed, all Jesus's disciples - were saved not by their unwavering faith or their bold testimonies or their good works. They were saved by Jesus. Jesus alone.
Seems to me that, by sending Jesus to die alone on the cross, without friend or aid or encouragement, God made that point perfectly clear. He deliberately cleared all the "best" of Jesus's followers from the stage, to avoid any possibility of confusion on the matter. If even the disciples couldn't contribute anything to their salvation, why do I think that I can?
Jesus saves, and Jesus alone. In what then shall I boast?
In Christ alone.
3 weeks ago