Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Our "long Gospel" reading is found in Mark 14:1-15:47, truly a long passage, full of action, from the Last Supper through the burial of Jesus. I'd like to focus today on just one element, that of betrayal. Peter famously tells Jesus that he will by no means deny Jesus. Jesus responds that he will deny Jesus three times before morning.
By my count, Peter denies Jesus no less than eight times in that brief span. He falls asleep rather than praying with Jesus, not once but three times, each one a denial of Jesus' desire to have his disciples praying with him. He retaliates against the guard who approaches to arrest Jesus, another denial of God's gracious will. He flees with the other disciples when the guards assert their ability to arrest Jesus. He comes back later to the high priest's courtyard, where he denies knowing Jesus three times. That's a grand total of eight denials.
Before we are too certain of our ability to remain faithful to Jesus, we should consider the courage of Peter, the apostle who often seemed so brave he might have been bulletproof. Prior to the ascension of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter was exactly the kind of person to confess Jesus and run.
I ask one important question in light of that testimony. Is Jesus the kind of person to cut and run? He is not. Is he the kind of person to deny knowing his people? Not in the least. Is he the kind to fall asleep rather than pray for you? By no means! All right, I admit, that's three questions. But if we can see Peter deny Jesus eight times and realize that Jesus told him he would deny him three times, I can say I am asking one question and proceed to ask three questions.
Even before the resurrection, Jesus minimized Peter's faithlessness. He showed himself, even in the time of his arrest, illegal trial, condemnation, and death, to be the kind of Lord who would restore his disciples.
He's the kind of Lord to restore you and me as well. This is the hope we have. The very same Jesus who gave his life for our sin is willing to forgive, cleanse, and restore us to perfect fellowship with him, even though we are just the kind of people who would deny him. Jesus is the kind of Lord who wants you to live through his perfect life and death on your behalf. He is the God of all restoration.
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