Saturday, March 28, 2009
One of the guards in the crowd, (believed to be the cousin of the guard smitten by Peter) recognizes Peter and claims that Peter was with Jesus that night. Not only does Peter deny, this but he vehemently denies it. He basically responds with "May God strike me down if I was with Jesus." He curses himself, with anger, and says "I don't know that man!" Then, the rooster crows and Peter flees. Once by himself, he cries and cries. Even though his response was in the heat of the moment, he still denied his friend and Lord. "I remember when the rooster crowed for me," says Clay, "this guy named Steve Martin, who I went to college with......he and I were watching a game.....I said some things and this friend said, 'Man, you didn't used to talk like that.'" For the rest of the day, Clay couldn't focus on anything except his friend's convicting words. The question is, then, are we going to have enough sensitivity to hear our alarms; our rooster crowing? If we have enough humility, we can get back into relationships.
Haven't you ever done something wrong in a relationship and you wanted to hide from that person whenever you saw them? But here, the disciples watched as the crowd convicted, stripped, beat and crucified their Lord and betrayed friend. When the women found the empty tomb the next day, it was Peter who sprinted to the tomb, determined to know if this was true. Later, after his resurrection, Jesus and the disciples are at a fire. In John 21, Jesus asks if Peter truly loves him more than anything. When Peter says "You know I do", Jesus says, "Feed my lambs". But then Jesus asks Peter the same question again and then again. But the third time, Peter told Jesus that Jesus knew all things and knew this was true. Jesus was asking three times, because He was symbolically forgiving three times. Jesus showed grace and said that He was going to give Peter 1) another chance and 2) everything he ever wanted. Peter, was empowered by being forgiven. This, no doubt, helped give Peter momentum in his ministry later on.
When we were kids, we'd walk and then fall. Would our parents scold us when we fell? Of course not! They said get up and try again. Right? Why is it that when we fall in some churches, they abandon us and say we don't deserve to get back up? Why is it that the body of Christ sometimes doesn't help us up when we fail? Why don't some Christians forgive us or understand? Some people, unfortunately, do not live their lives as Christ, the amazing forgiver, does.
Yet on the flip side, other people who have fallen feel they can fall as many times as they choose. But if we were hot on a summer day and we went inside to cool off. And if, while inside, we grabbed a bottle of Windex, would it quench our thirst? Maybe for a moment, but then we would suffer the consequences. But that's not the way we are built. The same is true about sin. We weren't built to continue sinning. God will forgive us again and again. But if we understand grace, we understand that sin isn't good for us. God's grace is big enough for us to take advantage of, but if we understand it, we won't.
Philip Yancy wrote a book called "What's So Amazing About Grace?" In that book, he says that, from nursury school onward, we are taught how to succeed in a world with no grace. We grow up hearing, "The early bird gets the worm...No pain no gain....there's no such thing as a free lunch....you get what you pay for....I like to win...and I insist on my rights. Yet if we care to listen, there is a loud whisper from the gospel. I deserve wrath and I got love. We deserve to stay down when we fall, but Jesus says if we give Him our life, we can get up and walk again! He calls us to stand by His grace, with unending chances. He will not only assist us up, but he will help us to run. Don't stay down. Stand up.
God doesn't see the sin in us as Christians, He sees the forgiveness given by his Son. Standing up might mean we want to serve or get involved in a community group . Peter stood. He went into the homes of people and invited them into a relationship with Jesus. In 1 Peter 5:10, Peter opens with "And the God of all grace.." Clay says, "I can't imagine he could write these words without crying". Peter goes on, ".....will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast..." The message of the gospel is all about grace. We all fall. We all fail. But we don't all have to stay down.