This is the first draft of the beginning of chapter one of my book. Thanks for reading and responding to the questions and statements that follow. Your responses will help as I continue to work on the first draft of this chapter that serves as background to Gethsemane.
Nothing significant happens without sacrifice. Be it the investment of time, resources or even self, sometimes the venture requires the commitment of everything one has to see it accomplished.
There is no greater picture of that commitment than Jesus on the cross. As Scripture says, “greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” To understand how Jesus arrived at the place where He willingly made that sacrifice, we look to the night before His death as He spent His final hours struggling in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Prior to entering the Garden, Jesus observed the Passover with His disciples. During dinner, he informed His disciples that the time of His death was getting closer, although they may not have understood what He was saying.
While they ate, Jesus told the disciples that one would betray Him. They became sad and each asked if it was him. Jesus also predicted that Peter would deny Him. Then Peter, along with others, declared the following: “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.” Those words would be tested later in the Garden.
The disciples words were empty promises. Empty promises are not kept, and they each promised in a vacuum. Their promises were given with little if any thought. In other words, they were spoken as if they would never be tested.
Have you ever done that? Of course. We all have. We have all told friends that if they ever needed help to let us know. They did and we were caught off guard and had to keep our promises even though it cost us something.
Has anyone ever made an empty promise to you? How did it feel when they didn’t keep it? It hurt, didn’t it?
I believe that is how Jesus felt, especially after Peter’s denial. I think Jesus felt betrayed when that happened. In some small way, I find some comfort in knowing that Jesus also experienced betrayal.
Many relationships suffer from empty promises. When someone close to you fails to keep their promise, it hurts you deeply and feelings of betrayal are hard to handle.
1. Describe a time when you made an empty promise to someone. What happened? What was the result? What did it take for you to make it right?
2. Describe a time when you realized that someone made an empty promise to you. What happened? Were you able to forgive them? What did it take for you to be able to forgive?
3. Does it bring any comfort for you to realize that the disciples gave Jesus empty promises? Do you find any comfort in knowing that Jesus was also betrayed? If so, how does that bring comfort to you?
4. Respond to the following: Every day we make empty promises to God. Do you believe that to be true? Why or why not?
5. In contrast to our empty promises, what promises of God are especially meaningful to you? Why?