Recently, I was engaged in one of those privileges of being a mom, i.e. taking out the trash from all the rooms. I was pulling out the plastic trash bag when I spied with my little eye a bunch of kiddie vitamins. Not the yummy gummy-bear kind. Nope. No kid in his right mind would sacrifice those. But the semi-yucky, hard-as-rock Flintstone vitamins. Specifically, the kind Sonny Boy had expressed a distaste for. Specifically, the kind I had forced him to chew every morning. Or so I thought. Till I saw Fred and Wilma Flintstone staring back at me from the bathroom trash
I was mad. I was disappointed. My perfect little son had been deceiving his gullible mama.
Sonny Boy is usually a problem-free, easy going, well behaved child. His mom has been dinning into the boy the perils of lying for a long time now. And she seriously thought he was incapable of it. (Yeah, don’t laugh at me)
Reminds me of someone else who thought he was incapable of deception or disloyalty. None other than Peter. You know, the Peter on whom Jesus said He would build His church. The Peter who said he would never forsake his Christ. The Peter who did exactly what he said he wouldn’t do.
As part of my Lent devotionals, I read the familiar Last Supper passage from Mark 14 where Jesus predicts Peter’s denial. Peter vehemently defends his loyalty to Christ. Her insists, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”
He’s in a “Me? Deny Christ? No way, José” situation.
And BAM!, the rooster crows and Pete’s nose gets a little longer.
Like Peter, I may entertain certain lofty ideas about my commitment to Christ. I mean, I’ve walked with God for about 20 years now. I think, “I would never ever do that!” or “I’m way beyond that temptation.”
That kind of thinking is presumptuous. It’s focused on our own capacity to stand up to temptation – not a God dependence to get us through it.
In Corinthians 10:10, the warning is clear: So, if you think you’re standing firm, be careful that you do not fall.”
I like what the Message Bible has to say about this: “You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else.”
But you know who knows us better than we know ourselves? (Hint: Here’s where you come in with the Sunday School Preschool answer that works for every single question: GOD!)
1 Corinthians 10 goes on to say that God knows what tests Susan can handle. God know what she can’t. God shows her the fire escape plan. It’s up to her to choose it. (Yup, that’s from the Bible translation, ‘Taking Some Liberties’)
In Peter’s case, Jesus knew of his imminent betrayal. He gave him three chances to own up to the truth.
But Jesus didn’t wash his hands of Peter. He did something radical instead – He went to the Cross for him.
Jesus knew… yet Jesus chose.
Jesus knows all my fears and failures. But Jesus chooses to accept me unreservedly.
Jesus knows I will turn my back on him. But Jesus chooses never to leave me.
Jesus knows I will try to live life on my terms. But Jesus chooses to go to the Cross for me – and despite me.
That’s jaw-dropping grace. That’s unreasonable love.
And because of that grace, Peter’s story didn’t end with there. Sinking Pete, Lying Pete, Scared Pete became a pillar of the early church. His words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, are recorded for posterity in the Bible.
I have no idea what the end of my story looks like. I take that back. I don’t even know what the end of the page looks like.
But you know who does?
And the Sunday School class goes, “GOD”