John 18.25 Now Simon Peter was standing warming himself. They asked him, ‘You are not also one of his disciples are you? He denied it and said ‘I am not.’
John 18.25 Standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary. John 19.38 “Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus.”
So where does following Jesus lead us? In the first instance to The Mt of Olives along with the disciples where all fled the scene. Then into the courtyard of the high priest with Peter and John where Peter denied he ever knew Jesus. Next to the foot of the cross with John and the two Marys to witness Jesus suffer and die. And lastly to the garden of Gethsemane with Joseph and Nicodemus in fear of discovery.
In the shadow of the cross none of the experiences of the first disciples paint a picture that is brimming with confidence and hope; far from it, failure and fear are never far away. Nevertheless, far better to be a disciple in Gethsemane and run away than remain in an upper room; better to be in the courtyard than skulking amongst the olives trees in Gethsemane; better to be at the foot of the cross than hiding in the city streets; and better be a fearful disciple than none at all.
Before there can be new life and resurrection there has to be death and crucifixion; prayerful confident discipleship is necessarily forged in walking in the shadow of the cross, embracing fear failure and suffering, and trusting in the Saviour who goes before us.