My favourite event of the year is almost upon us.
NEW YEAR, who doesn’t love all things new and fresh? Well actually, I understand that for everyone it doesn’t hold the same hope and excitement for new beginnings. For some, I realise New Years Day is just another day in a miserable existence of loss, despair or shame and misery, or of guilt or regret. I’ve been there, got the t-shirt, and the short-lived unrealistic goals that we fail to keep at the beginning of the New Year just add to our sense of failure… I hear ya, I feel ya. I promise I have been there.
Even since I’ve been a friend of Jesus, I still have managed to do that thing, where I promise him my whole heart, my full obedience and my unwavering focus and then fall flat on my face because, well mostly because, I’m human and, in this world, we are all broken, because we have an enemy who not only introduced sin to the world but is on a constant mission to pull everyone into his trap of pain and misery with him. He is mean and he is sleeked and, well I think, he is a big fat dirty rotten liar, because when he pulls us into his trap of temptation, then he turns the guns and puts us on a big guilt trip and gives us a heavy blanket of condemnation to keep us comfortable in our guilt, shame and regret. And so the vicious circle continues. he pulls us in, he kicks us down, and when God gives us the strength to pick up again. he comes along with an even tastier temptation to lure us in… (more t-shirts in the drawer for me)
His most vulnerable victims are the new converts, your young and impressionable, the part-timers coasting along foot in each camp that a quick tug can get them to the other side, the comfortable and secure; they never see it coming. Everyone from the holy to the haughty are all potential victims to the father of lies. So it will come as no surprise that you, me, or even Jesus’ disciples all fall for his ways.
I want to take a quick moment to focus on one disciple in particular… you may have heard of him before, Peter. Well, Petey used to go by the name of Simon, but, hey, he answered the million-dollar question when Jesus asked his disciples in Caeserea, which I believe is something like modern-day Las Vegas (Sin City), who do you say I am? All the disciples answer what they have heard on the old rumour mill, but not Si, he says you are the Christ! Bingo, he gets himself a new name. Catch it here for yourself.
“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.””
Matthew 16:13-19 ESV
We catch up with Peter a few more times. When he is fighting with his buddies over who is Jesus’ favourite. Wow! Hide the pride, Petey. Again, giving in to temptation of falling asleep on the job of keeping a lookout for Jesus. Then. the most famous incident where Jesus foretells and warns him in advance that he will deny Him three times before the cock crows. And from the man who, of all his disciples, first acknowledgedJesus as the Messiah to the disciple who was willing to go to prison in his place, to be told that he would deny his master was unthinkable. He argued that there was no way that would ever happen and yet it did. (Also worn that t-shirt before!)
“Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.”
Luke 22:54-62 ESV
See, what I reckon, Peter is no different than any one of us, only he actually got to sit side by side with Jesus. For all of us who walk closely with Jesus, we are just as vulnerable to the same traps of the enemy as Peter: pride, temptation, sin, guilt, shame.
But I don’t believe this message is in the Bible to show us Peter’s failings, but as an example of the love and compassion that Jesus has for us in our failings. Let’s read the text again:
“And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.”
Luke 22:61-62 ESV
As the Lord turned and looked, we know that look, that look from a friend or a parent or a partner from across a room, the look of I see you, what you did, I see your pain, but it’s going to be ok. I’m here, I love you, I’ve got your back. After Jesus resurrection, Jesus came to visit Peter and sat down and fully restored their relationship and his discipleship.
I can’t emphasise enough, this is Jesus’ heart for us all the time, in all situations, in all sin and failure, even the ones we are warned about. There is no sin too big God can’t forgive.
And I plead with you today, to let that sink in as we enter this new year. I urge you to consider that look from Jesus and leave all that condemnation you carry, all the regret and shame, all the forgiveness, all the pride and stubbornness, I urge you to leave it in 2019. Don’t carry it over the threshold of 2020 with you. Jesus already died to take that burden off you. He hung on the cross so you might know his love. Let him love you even after your disaster, your mistake, your betrayal, your denial… he knew before you did that you’d do it and he still loves you. Let him love you!
Praying you to feel the fullness of God’s love for you & and God’s Richest Blessings on you and your family heading into the new year. I pray you to see prayers answered, I pray this is the year you walk into your dreams. And joy and laughter, fill every day of 2020
Much Love Terri