Friday, June 24, 2011
Because I'm Forgiven
But he replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death."
Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me."
Was there ever a moment in your life when you felt you were absolutely committed to doing something but, when the time came, you couldn't follow through? Whether you make the commitment from a stand of weakness, i.e., you had not yet learned to say "no", or in self-assured sincerity, i.e., "I do" at the altar, failure to deliver on that promise gives rise to painful feelings of inadequacy and shame. It's embarrassing enough to admit your own failures, but you can be, unless you're a celebrity, so grateful your lurid shortcomings aren't graphically splashed on every tabloid in the supermarket, aired like dirty laundry for all to see.
Not so, poor Peter! He made the headlines in every available media source of his day. All four gospels contain his denial of Jesus in detail; Mark reports that he wept, and Luke and Matthew add the telling adverb, "bitterly". Peter, the disciple who first knew Jesus as the Christ, the rock on whom Jesus declared the church would be built, crumbles in humiliation and disgrace. He has forsaken his Lord, his Master, his Savior; how will anything in his life ever be right and good and true again?
Jesus dies on the cross; Peter is in hiding. Jesus rises from the dead; Peter is forgiven and healed, infused once more with hope and faith. The Holy Spirit descends upon him and the others in power and glory, and Peter is reborn, honed and prepared to keep the commitment he made at the Last Supper, one that now he is empowered to honor. Jesus' promise is fulfilled; this man adrift on shifting sands has become the rock envisioned upon which Christianity would thrive.
Did you break a promise, a vow; have you let someone down? Do you think that your mistake is unforgivable? Think again. Jesus counted on Peter to build the church and He is counting on you to do the same. He forgave Peter and He forgives you. It is only in the light of forgiveness that you can truly live. I say, "Live it up!"
Psalms 102 or 107:1-32
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