Grace Greater Than Our Sin
It’s OMIF time for Peter again in the upper room (Mark 14:26ff). Open Mouth Insert Foot. He is not a bit happy that Jesus has said that ALL of the twelve disciples will fall away. And it is interesting how Peter frames his protest, isn’t it? He basically throws the other ten right under the Backslide Bus that’s about to barrel down the highway, but claims HE, Peter, will not be on it! He doesn’t defend the other disciples, only himself. It’s like the old ditty that went something like this: “There ain’t no flies on me; might be flies on some those guys, but there ain’t no flies on me!” Peter says to Jesus, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” Peter has little doubt that they will fall away, and ZERO doubt that HE will not fall away. We need to be careful, believers, of thinking of ourselves as the exception to the rule, and especially to point fingers at others we see who don’t live up to the rule. No matter what that rule is. James Edwards writes, “It is of no use to protest that we have not committed the sins we self-righteously condemn in others. The question is not what sins we have committed as much as what sins would we commit were we faced with serious pressure, temptation, opportunity, and threat.”
Jesus interrupts Peter’s boastful claims with a strong dose of reality: Truth? “This very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” The word for ‘betray” literally means to disown. To remove from oneself. To reject. Not just once, Peter, which could be excused by a momentary lapse, a moment of weakness. Three times. And you will know it has happened when you hear the rooster crow the second time. Perhaps the first time Peter heard it, there was a warning to stop in his tracks and turn back to the Lord? But he did not. But the good news is that there is future grace for the people of God! Jesus will give that to Peter on the beach in John 21, when he asks him three times, once for every time Peter disowned him, “Do you love me, Peter?” And Peter will be able to say, “Lord, you know I do, even with all of my failures, you know I do love you.” And oh, how much the Lord loved Peter, and how much the Lord loves you and me. Even when we deny him. His grace is greater than all our sin.
What are some applications from this text?
Let us recognize God is in control of every circumstance, and that future grace is there for us every moment. Without fail. God leads us beside still waters. God also leads us through the valley of the shadow of death. When we fall, his grace is there to pick us up and give us strength to keep going.
Let us grow in trust and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. I would imagine it was very difficult for the ten to know how to deal with the one, even though it was Peter, when they found out he had denied the Lord three times. Just like it may be hard for you sometimes to love someone in the church who hurts you, or to trust the pastor or the elders when they don’t do or say what you think we should do or say. But remember, saints. We all fail. Each one of us. Good news! Christ never fails. We all fall. Good news! Christ still loves us when we do.
Cindy and I recently finished reading Megan Hill’s book, “The Place to Belong,” a book about the local church. Here’s an excerpt:
“Dear member of Christ’s church, soon you will hear the voice of Christ calling you, “Come up.” (Rev. 4:11). Come up to the heavenly Jerusalem. Come up to the city with foundations. Come up to the very throne of God and the near presence of Christ. Come up to the assembly of the redeemed. Come, join the multitude. This vision of the church’s sure and certain future ought to encourage our hearts. Soon, the ordinary congregation to which we belong (yes, Antioch!) will be glorified, and it is right for us to eagerly anticipate that day. But, in that day, your church will be no more precious to Christ than it is today. The church in eternity will appear more lovely, but it will not be more loved. And as we commit ourselves even now to the local church, we testify to this reality. Because Christ delights in his church, we delight in it. Because Christ calls it his own, we call it our own. Because Christ loves the church, we love it too. Week after week, we give ourselves for the good of the people whom God loves. And in eternity we will not be disappointed. Come. This is where you belong.”