July 26, 2017
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”
“Suddenly, God, You floodlight my life; I’m blazing with glory, God’s glory.”
“Lord, it is dark, the road is tough to go;
I lift an unlit candle in the night,
Behold it, Lord, within my upraised hand;
Touch it to flame with Thine own heavenly light.
This slender waxen thing that is my faith,
Fire it, Lord, with some divine white spark,
Until its circle, widening at my feet,
Will mark my certain way across the dark.
‘Thou wilt light my candle’…Thus assured
I shall go forward through this unknown land;
The way can never grow too dark, too long,
For I shall bear Thy light within my hand.”
Grace Noll Crowell
Today’s Study Texts:
"When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon Son of Jonas, do you love me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, You know that I love you.”
“’And Peter’ – What Forgiveness Looks Like”
“He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every (individual) has need to be forgiven.”
If I had been walking with Jesus after the beach breakfast, what thoughts would have been going through my mind?
With Peter’s denial still a recent memory, how do I think Peter felt when Jesus struck up a conversation with him?
“There’s no point in burying a hatchet if you’re going to put up a marker on the site.”
RESPONSE: “Lord Jesus, help me to be kind and tender-hearted to others, forgiving others, as God, for your sake, has forgiven me.”
“You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.’”
What a night! I believe that in the life of Jesus, the pain of this particular evening may have surpassed any other of His travails up to the cross. Being hustled by an unruly mob toward the “palace of the high priest,” the disciple John paints a dark and somber picture of what transpired:
“But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, ‘Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples?’ He saith, ‘I am not.’ And the servant and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself…Now Annas had sent Jesus bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, ‘Art not thou also one of his disciples?’ He denied it, and said, ‘I am not.’ One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, ‘Did not I see thee in the garden with Him?’ Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.”
John 18:16-18, 24-27
I’m certain there isn’t a one of us that can read this story without aching for at the moment of greatest need, when having a loyal friend standing at your side could have eased Jesus pain, the sword wielding Peter, who earlier in the evening had lopped-off Malchus’ ear, now became a craven coward – fearful that he might get caught up in the rush to judgment of an innocent man.
How the memory of that evening must have haunted Peter. And once the Man he had called Master and Lord was crucified and buried, I have no doubt that Peter had the kind of thoughts that frequent our minds when someone we love dies. You know what I’m speaking about. Phrases like, “If only I could tell them how much I loved them. If only I could say I was sorry.” It’s quite likely that many “if only’s” had peppered Peter’s thoughts in the day and kept him awake during the night.
Then something wonderful happened. It was a message brought by Jesus most faithful followers, a group of women! And it went like this: “Tell His disciples and Peter that He is going on ahead of you to Galilee.” How would you have felt if you were in Peter’s sandals? After letting his best friend down at a time when Jesus needed Peter’s support, to hear his name spoken, personally, must have meant the world to Peter. I think I might have thought that after a triple denial, Jesus would come to the conclusion He didn’t need me anymore. Why should Jesus keep someone as a friend who stabbed Him in the back? Someone who turned on Him in a crisis? Peter certainly had to wonder if he could ever look Jesus in the eye again.
But after hearing that indeed Jesus wanted him, Peter, to still be part of His group of disciples, I have to believe that Peter’s heart was filled with gratitude too great for words.
The word forgiveness in the English dictionary means “to pardon for an offense.” This just doesn’t seem strong enough for me. So I checked out the Old Testament Hebrew and found that to forgive means to “utterly and completely cast away.” And in the Greek, the word which Jesus used in the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive our trespasses” means “to leave and forsake and put away.” It is this type of forgiveness which doesn’t remember the hurt but instead, chooses to cast away even the resentful thoughts that can plague us when someone does us wrong. It means I won’t harbor the anger and I won’t respond with bitterness.
However, there’s even more to forgiveness which we find portrayed in Jesus interaction with Peter. Soren Kierkegaard expresses this wonderful thought, “The only true forgiveness is that which is offered and extended even before the offender has apologized and sought it.” This is the way Jesus treated the disciple who denied Him three times. Before Peter could even utter the words, “I’m sorry,” Jesus was already planning ahead for He was going to Galilee and He wanted to make certain all His friends, including Peter, especially Peter, would be there waiting and looking for Him.
If today you feel that like Peter, your denials are too big and too frequent, never forget that you have a Friend who forgives – and who wipes our slate clean. In the words of Meister Eckhart, “Let us look to our own imperfections, surely forgetting what God has forgotten: sins truly repented, which God has forgotten, we have no business to remember.”
“Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness or else forgiving another.”
Jean Paul Richter
“For our incapacity to feel the sufferings
of others, and our tendency to live
comfortably with injustice,
God Forgive Us.
For the self-righteousness which denies guilt,
and self-interest which strangles compassion,
God Forgive Us.
For those who live their lives in careless unconcern,
Who cry ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace,
We Ask Your Mercy.
For our failings in community,
our lack of understanding,
We Ask Your Mercy.
For our lack of forgiveness, openness, sensitivity,
God Forgive Us.
For the times we were too eager to be better than others,
when we are too rushed to care,
when we are too tired to bother,
when we don’t really listen,
when we are too quick to act
from motives other than love,
God Forgive Us.”
Agency for Christian Social Awareness
“Father, forgive them”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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