December 1, 2009
I am blown away by the way Jesus reached into Peter’s life when he was at his worst. Jesus KNEW that Peter would betray Him, denying Him three times. At the time when Jesus needed His close friend most, Peter turned his back on Jesus in every way. Jesus KNEW Peter would but believed in Peter anyway.
Jesus erased the evidence that could have gotten Peter the death penalty when He replaced the guard’s ear.
Jesus prayed for Peter so he would have the strength to return rather than hang himself as Judas did.
Jesus made eye contact with Peter as the rooster crowed signaling the third denial, reminding Peter that Jesus KNEW it would happen and reminding Peter of Jesus’ instructions: 31“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32, NIV)
If Jesus had spoken anything, He risked Peter being taken prisoner as well. Mark Batterson states that Jesus’ was not scolding or saying “I told you so!” Rather Jesus’ look said, “Peter, look at Me. I forgave you before you even denied Me. I just want you to know that I haven’t given up on you. We’re still in this thing together!” (“Wild Goose Chase”, Mark Batterson, p. 108)
Following His resurrection, Jesus specifically restored Peter (John 21:15-19) with unconditional grace. And then the Holy Spirit used Peter and others to turn the world upside-down.
What is it within us that resists grace?
The undeserved, unearned favored position with God that causes Him to pour out His love, mercy and forgiveness without end. We don’t understand it, we can’t comprehend it, we have a hard time accepting it when it is extended and so we try to earn it. Often we reject or try to alter it because we believe it must somehow cost us something.
We grow up believing that you get what you earn; nothing is free in life; “If it sounds too good to be true it is;” there is a cost for everything and if someone is offering you a free gift you better check around for the catch. That’s true in the human world and works well in school, purchases and jobs. Not so good in relationships.
In relationships most of us have experienced conditional love – that if we want someone’s love there are conditions (act right, give back, live up to it, do what I want, etc.) It’s not that our parents tried to love us conditionally; it’s just what the whole human race understands and lives out.
That’s why it is so hard to catch, believe and embrace God’s grace. We have no point of reference for it. We have no experience that prepares us to accept it.
But when we see it, it takes our breath away. It will turn us into a puddle or make us run. Peter was a puddle; Judas ran. There was nothing short of total rejection that could prevent Peter from experiencing the incredible grace of Jesus. All he had to do was stay in the vicinity with Jesus. And grace washed over him like nothing he had ever known. When he expected Jesus’ rebuke, he got His unconditional grace. Jesus instruction was not how badly Peter blew it but was simply, “Follow me!” (John 21:19).
It’s the same for you.
God’s grace really, really, really is free and better than anything we can imagine. It is too good to be true, yet it IS true. For YOU!
I’m a puddle.
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Tuesday, December 01, 2009
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