by Dow Tippett
““Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.”
Matthew 26:34-35 NIV
As Jesus was wrapping up the Passover meal with his disciples, he began to make very clear all that lie ahead. The disciples as a group began to question Jesus statements about dying and about them abandoning him. We usually jump on Peter for boasting that he would die with Jesus, but notice that John tells us "the other disciples said the same."
So many of us stand up and profess our faith to God and others with boldness, and in all sincerity believe that we would go to our graves before we denied him. Then tragedy strikes: a child dies, a spouse leaves, a leader fails morally, and we turn on God so quickly.
We may not deny him publicly, but we begin to question his decisions, we question his goodness, we get angry and lash out. Too easily and too often we are exactly like the disciples. Sitting in the comfort of the upper room (or our church services) feeling his presence, we share just how much we love him, but in the darkness of days we find darkness still invades our soul.
How wonderful that the gospel, the Bible, the story of life is not about our resolve, but about God's. How did Jesus respond to Peter's claims? Jesus prayed for him. How did Jesus respond to Peter's denial? Jesus died for him. And when the power of God rose Jesus from the dead three days later, Jesus came to Peter. Jesus not only forgave him, but he gave him the calling and purpose for which Peter had longed.
So what if you have struggled with your faith? What if you have let bitterness toward God drive you from him? What if you or someone you love has denied you ever knew him? "God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
If we will follow him when we he comes to us again, we can be restored and set on an even more powerful path. A path that is no longer about how far we will go with Jesus, but how far we will go to feed his sheep.
Grasping the depth of God's love requires that we let his forgiveness be embraced, and realize how far God will go.