Archive for February 4, 2012
Tags: God, Jesus, John, Lord, Peter, Saint Peter, Sanhedrin, Satan
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was grieved. Sitting on the beach after breakfast, Jesus had just asked him for the third time if he loved him. Peter had already wholeheartedly answered yes twice. What else was he supposed to say?
With these questions, the Lord was putting his finger on a very tender wound in Peter’s heart. Peter’s failure on the night of Jesus’ trial had been simply horrible. In the hour of his Lord’s greatest anguish, Peter had denied even knowing him. This sin shook Peter to the core of his being.
Jesus had told him that he would do it.1 But in the Upper Room, over the Passover meal, with his fellow disciples around him, Peter did not believe it. He could still hear himself proclaim, “I will lay down my life for you.”2
He had had no idea how weak he really was. He had imagined himself boldly standing before the Sanhedrin side by side with Jesus, come what may. But that night, as Jesus was doing that very thing, Peter couldn’t even stand before a servant girl. “You also are not one of this man’s disciples are you?” He had completely caved: “I am not.”3
I am not. Those words had kept Peter up at night. He was supposed to be a rock.4 That night he had crumbled into pieces. He was not who he thought he was. Peter had never been less confident in himself.
So when Jesus questioned Peter’s love for a third time that morning, Peter grieved that he might have lost the Savior’s trust. He had failed. But he did love him. All he could do was appeal to Jesus’ omniscience:
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
And Jesus did. In fact, later Peter realized what Jesus had done in that painful conversation. He had not doubted Peter’s love at all. Rather, he had allowed Peter to confess his love for every wretched denial he had made on that dreadful night. Amazing grace.
And the Lord had a word for Peter. In the future there would be another opportunity to confess his love publicly in the face of great cost. And then he said, “Follow me.”
When Jesus chose you to be his disciple, he foresaw your future failures as sure as he foresaw Peter’s. We may not want to believe that we could deny Jesus by engaging in a sin that contradicts everything we believe. But Jesus knows what is in us.5 So he exhorts us along with Peter to “watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”6
And when we do fail, we must remember what Jesus said to Peter before his failure: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”7 Peter was going to sin — miserably. But Jesus had prayed for him. Jesus’ prayer was stronger than Peter’s sin, and it’s stronger than our sin too. “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”8 And Jesus is the great restorer of failures who repent. Jesus had said to Peter “when you have turned again [repented], strengthen your brothers.” And there on the beach he again gave Peter the greatest invitation any of us can receive on earth: “follow me.” The failure was to be left behind. There was kingdom work to do, and eternal life to enjoy.
Peter’s failure did not define him. And ours will not define us. They are horrible, humbling stumbles along the path of following Jesus, who paid for them all on the cross.
And Jesus specializes in transforming failures into rocks of strength for his church.
King James Version (KJV)
2For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.
Tags: Christ, Christianity, Frigyes Karinthy, God, Jesus, Short story, Six degrees of separation, Sophia (wisdom)
Eighty years ago, Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy wrote a short story he called “Chain-Links,” in which he proposed the idea that any two individuals in the world are connected through, at most, five acquaintances. The thesis has been revived today and is usually described as “Six Degrees of Separation.” It’s an unproven theory, of course. But there is a dynamic at work that links us to others around the world: It is the wisdom and providence of God working through His Word to accomplish His will.
Some years ago, I received a letter from a man whom I had never met telling me that a note I had sent to a nearby friend had found its way to him, and it had encouraged him in a time of weariness and dark despair. The friend to whom I had sent the note sent it to a friend, who, in turn, sent it to a friend, and so on, until it was sent to the man who wrote to me.
It may be that a simple word offered in love, guided by the wisdom of God, and borne aloft on the wings of the Spirit will have eternal consequences in someone’s life.
Should we not then fill ourselves with God’s Word and pass it on to others with the prayer that God will use it for His intended purposes? (Isa. 55:11).
Do a deed of simple kindness, Though its end you may not see; It may reach, like widening ripples, Down a long eternity. —Norris
Tags: Character (arts), Christ, Christian, Christianity, God, Jesu, Superstition, Supreme Being
Any sound religious experience must begin with a proper conception of the nature of God. The terrible power of idolatry for evil lies in its unworthy conception of the character of the Supreme Being. Indeed it may be said without qualification that all religious experience that incorporates in itself low or ignoble ideas of God is in essence superstitious. The god of superstition is an irresponsible god, arbitrary and without character. The supersititious person must constantly try to outwit him or placate him or catch him with words and force a favor out of him. But such a person is never at peace because he is never sure of anything. His hope is fugitive and skittish. There is no trustworthy being back of his faith; there are only words. True faith does not rest upon texts alone but upon God who wrote the text. The word is an expression of the character of God and is exactly as good as that character, no more and no less. The free man in Christ has been delivered from the “tyranny of words.” He has gone beyond the word to God Himself and has found there his true fatherland and everlasting home. He can no longer be intimidated by the little slave-men who threaten him with punishment if he fails to repeat this religious phrase or mutter that sacred word. He has discovered the true ground of religious hope–the character of God. To such a man the Scriptures are the very words of God, meaningless apart from Him but altogether glorious when understood as the verbal expression of His holy being.