In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.
What a night had it been for Jesus. In just a few hours, He experienced an intense temptation to disobey God, a terrible betrayal, and abandonment by everyone close to Him. I want to point out three principles from this passage that I hope will be an encouragement to you when you face temptation, betrayal, or abandonment.
First, do not be surprised when people disappoint you. For all the disciples to abandon Jesus, including Peter, the one Jesus had hand-picked to be the leader–that was a hard thing to take. Yet Jesus never wavered in His faith because His faith was not in people; His ultimate faith was in God, and ours should be as well. D. L. Moody is credited as saying, “Trust in yourself, and you are doomed to disappointment; trust in your friends, and they will die and leave you; trust in money, and you may have it taken from you; trust in reputation, and some slanderous tongue may blast it; but trust in God, and you are never to be confounded in time or eternity.”
Second, strengthen your relationship with God before the battle begins. We often hear, “If you want to triumph over temptation and testing in your life, just do what Jesus did when He was in the middle of testing.” But the truth is, if you try to do what Jesus did in the heat of battle, you are not going to succeed. The secret to Jesus’s success was what He did in the hours when He was not being tested. Luke 22:39 says He went to the Mount of Olives to pray “as was His custom.” Prayer was an integral part of His life. In Luke 4:16, Jesus went to the synagogue “as was His custom.” Every week, He was in God’s house to be strengthened. It was the disciplines Jesus had outside the battle that made Him successful when trials came. If you want to be successful like Jesus, you need to prepare yourself before the battle begins.
Finally, failure is inevitable, but it does not have to be final. Peter failed, but he confessed his failure and found God’s forgiveness. Within seven weeks, he was standing on the southern steps of the temple in Jerusalem preaching the most courageous sermon that has ever been preached, and three thousand people were converted. You are also going to fail at some point in your life, but you can choose how to respond to your failure. You can be like Judas and allow that failure to drive you away from God. Or, like Peter, you can confess your failure, receive Christ’s forgiveness, and allow your failure to drive you into the arms of the God who loves you.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Longest Night” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.
D. L. Moody, as quoted in Delavan L. Pierson, comp., “The Northfield Year-Book: For Each New Day” (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1896), 370.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.