Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Name of the Game

"I will follow you to death and to prison, Lord! They may fall away, Lord," he saw some dirty looks coming his way, "I will not." Peter declared this boldly, loudly. Jesus had started talking about scattered sheep, saying they would all fall away from him. In an attempt to reassure him of his love, Peter spoke up.

Jesus smiled. It wasn't condescending, or even happy. Just knowing and loving. "Peter, this very night, you will deny me three times before the rooster crows even twice."

Peter felt his blood boil. He would never, ever do such a thing! Let the others, but he was confident in himself. Emphatically, Peter spoke, "If I must die with you, I will not deny you!"

Based on Mark 14:26-31


Peter followed close enough to see Jesus, but far enough away that the high priest wouldn't notice him as more then just an observer. Hopefully none of the mob who had arrested Jesus would recognize him. He had ditched the sword and his robe just outside of the garden. He was basically dressed for summer in his tunic, even though the temperature told him it was far from it. He took a deep breath, and chill ran down his spine. However, Peter knew it was from more then just the cold, night air.

Jesus had been arrested.

Ever since he'd awoken in the garden, the night had moved at a rapid pace. The Passover super, the feet washing, and all Jesus had talked about felt like it had happened many days ago, instead of just hours.

The sound of wood popping in a fire caught his attention. He looked around and saw a faint glow coming from within the courtyard. It was a bit closer to the high priest then he would like to be, but it beat freezing to death. He shuffled into the courtyard, eyes averted, head down. The smell of burning wood flirted with his nose, taunting him with the idea of warmth.

He circled around the men and women already there, and stopped just a couple feet from the steady fire, holding out his hands in an attempt to summon the warmth into his body. Jesus was straight in his line of sight.

The others were whispering about him. He tried to ignore them, but the servant girl on his left reached out her hand to get his attention. "You were with him, weren't you?" She recognizes me! Her eyes lit up with knowing.

Peter knew he must not get caught. He'd be of no help to anyone if he was put on trial, too. "I don't know him."

She frowned at him, but he ignore her, hoping she'd take the hint.

But they didn't. Later, another man declared the same thing, to which he vehemently replied, "Man, I am not!" Then a hour after that, another man said, "He is definitely one of them. Look at him. He's Galilean!"

Peter was furious! He just wanted them to leave him alone. He need to figure out what to do, and he couldn't risk being associated with Jesus right now. Curses spilled out of his mouth, startling the small group around him, for he had barely spoken at all. "Man, I do not know what you are talking about! I do not know him!"

Before he even finished speaking, the rooster crowed.

It all flooded over Peter. Like a crashing wave, drowning him in guilt.

Then Peter wished it would drown him. For Jesus was looking right at him! He knew!

And the worst part was the look on Jesus' face.

The love that he had denied.

Based on Luke 22:54-62

When Jesus predicts Peter's denial, Peter's whole attitude is, "I will never deny you! They may, but I never will." He was utterly confident. Peter was arrogant. If he had just stopped, and listened to what Jesus was saying, he could have been prepared for that battle. Then that fateful moment came. He did exactly what he swore he would never do! He denied Jesus three times.

How must that have felt like? We don't have to look any further then our own hearts for the answer. There have been times where we all have done what Peter's done. We looked at other "sinners" with carefully cultivated righteousness and said, "I will never do that!" Then we do. We've all fallen! There have even been seasons were we purposefully walk away from Him and His love. Those traps will take anyone down, especially those who are unprepared for the battle, temptations, and trials.

How do you feel when you know you've sinned? Awful! Do you remember when you were little, and your parents busted you on something. I always felt like the scum of the earth! If I was in Peter's shoes, that's how I would have felt then, too. He was unworthy, a sinner, a liar. He had denied Jesus! And Jesus knew, and still loved him, and that would have made his heart ache even more.

Peter learned from his mistake. I don't believe it was a coincidence that the ministry for the Gentiles was first opened up through Peter, or that he had a vision of unclean food with God's words THREE times (Acts 10)! I believe it was because of his heart. He was able to accept and love the Gentiles almost immediately. He had been in the position of unworthy sinner, and he knew if God could forgive and love him despite what he'd done, then who was he to argue against the Gentiles. Truly, God's words, "What God has made clean, do not call common," sunk into his heart!

God has called us clean. We shouldn't be. Oh, we know we shouldn't be! His heart is for us to love like He has loved. To forgive as He has forgiven. To look at everyone around us with His eyes. We see a girl who screwed up, and has three kids and no husband. He sees His daughter, Whom He misses. We see a drunk and substance abuser. He sees His son, Whom He loves. He sees you and me, and yeah, we screw up, but He sees our hearts. He wants us to love, not judge.

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Love is the name of the game. We can't be righteous without love. We can't be perfect without love. We can't be real followers of Jesus without love. We will be cold, cruel, crass, haughty, judgmental people.

"Love is patient and kind; Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful." 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

"So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

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