Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Failures. God loves.

John 13:37 - 38
Peter asked, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!"

Peter made a promise he couldn't keep. There was no doubting his love & devotion towards his master - he was sincere, but weak. And we are all no strangers to Peter's story here, aren't we? We, too, have made promises to God & have failed miserably at keeping them. In fact, I could make a list here & I'm certain that you could identify with at least 2 of them.

Maybe it was at youth camp, or at your church's watchnight service, where you made a decision to finish reading the bible next year; or did you make a determination to give 15 minutes of your day for quiet time / devotion, reading at least 1 chapter a day & to pray? We were sincere & truly desired to live our lives pleasing to Him, but then life happened & those promises were either forgotten or given up on. Sincere, but weak...

I want us to be reminded that in spite of our failures & weaknesses, Jesus still loves us.

1. He reminds us -
You'll be bumped out if you've made a powerful declaration of love only to be declared that you'll fail, just like what transpired between Peter & Jesus. But I want you to put yourselves in Jesus' shoes (or rather, as my youth member correctly points out, sandals). He was going to the cross, with the knowledge that one of his disciples will betray Him, another one will deny Him 3 times, & only one will be present as Jesus hangs upon the cross. It must have hurt like hell.

Yet in that moment, Jesus still cared for Peter. Basically He says this: "Peter, I know you're sincere. But let me tell you beforehand - you'll fail. It's alright. When the rooster crows, know that I am reminding you that you have failed & need to repent & turn back to Me." The gospel of Luke recorded Jesus saying more:

Luke 22:32
"But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

You can probably think of an example in your workplace, or maybe in church. Somebody always fails to do as he / she says, or keeps repeating the same mistake over & over again. Are you gonna trust that person again? Will you even bother saying anything at all? In spite of Peter's failures & in spite of Jesus' pain, He still entrusted Peter with great things.

2. He doesn't withold His blessings from us -
John 14 picks up right after Jesus predicts Peter's denial. Check it out:

John 14:1 - 3
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

There are so many beautiful things about this scripture. He comforts Peter & the disciples. He urges them not to rely on their own strength, but upon Himself. He promises them a place in the Father's house. In the Last Supper itself, we can find many valid reasons for Jesus to just forget about Peter & all the disciples. Yet He still loves them. He loved them till the very end (John 13:1).

Many says that John's gospel can be split into 2 halves, with the 2nd half beginning from John 13. That view makes sense to me, as John 13 begins with a declaration of Jesus' love towards His disciples - & that truth was beautifully expressed by the beach where Peter's restoration took place (chapter 21). Peter was fishing, something that Jesus called him OUT OF. So, basically, he had backslide. Yet Jesus was there, reaching out with hands of forgiveness - forgiveness that would empower Peter to later do great things.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that we will constantly fail in our attempts to do what God desires of us. Even if we manage, it's hardly ever 100%. Besides, everything good that we do, is because of God's grace, God's empowerment, God's guidance, God's provision anyways. Bottom line - it's not about us. It's not about us getting things right - it's about a journey of knowing a God who loves us unfailingly & unceasingly.

Our failures / sins should not be reason for us to fall into guilt & condemnation. Rather, our failures should serve as reminders of how much He loves us. Draw near to Him.

He loves us, oh how He loves us...

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