My first thought was, “It’s not going to be me.”
Jesus, in a voice barely audible,
told us we would all become deserters.
When I protested, he looked at me,
singling me out,
and said that I would deny him too.
After everything we’d gone through together,
after all I’d left behind, these three years of ministry…
how could he doubt me?
Was I not the only one who stepped out of the boat,
waves raging, my one thought to be at his side?
With all my heart, I’d told him what I knew to be true,
that he was the Christ, the son of the Living God.
Me desert him? Never!
Then and there I vowed,
“I will not leave this man.”
I am going to stick with Jesus
whatever the cost…prison, death…
nothing will stop me.
And I am a man of my word.
We heard the soldiers coming,
but Jesus didn’t move, he only waited.
And then the betrayer was at hand,
Judas, armed only with a kiss.
When they went to seize our Lord,
I drew my sword to defend him.
No one else came prepared to fight,
but Jesus refused my protection,
meagre as it was.
I would have died fighting at his side,
but he would not have it.
I don’t know where the other disciples went
but I never lost sight of Jesus,
I was there with him,
walking in the shadows.
I can hardly say what I was expecting…
Moses or Elijah, a voice from heaven,
a storm from him whom the winds obeyed,
bonds broken in pieces like bread on a hillside,
something, anything to end that unthinkable captivity.
Instead there was only a quiet night,
the clink of chains,
the darkness broken by fires.
I could see him with the soldiers.
I went as close as I could,
cautious, as I knew that I was out of place.
And sure enough, a girl picked me out of the crowd.
She would have had me thrown out of the courtyard,
but I was determined to stay close to Jesus.
I said anything to keep my vow to not leave his side.
If I admitted I knew him, they would send me away.
Three times I was challenged
and at the third time, I turned and looked at Jesus,
saying with my eyes, “I am still here, I won’t leave you.”
He lifts his head, and his gaze locks on mine
even as the crazy cry of the rooster announces the dawn.
The sound recalls his words that I would deny him three times…
But I am still here! I have not left your side!
I will not desert you!
His eyes reach inside me like the shock of a desert dawn.
I had missed something essential.
I had paid too dearly for the sight of him.
I stumbled from that place
stung from the terrible choice of being with or being true.
I left his side,
wildly weeping for a lost saviour.
I could not save him with my presence,
even with a truer word spoken.