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Impetuous Peter…the disciple like so many of us, if we’re honest. I tend to speak quickly, not always giving as much thought to my answer as I should. My late husband, on the other hand, would take time to formulate his reply. And how often I’ve realized the depth of wisdom he shared in what he’d mulled over. 

Then there’s the side of us which promises never to abandon a friend in their time of need. And yet, we do. I can’t help but wonder… aren’t we a bit miffed at their denials of wrongs to protect themselves? Does their conscience pierce their heart? Is there guilt or shame? Don’t they know a heart-felt apology for wrongs done begins to restore relationships? But, more importantly, have we forgiven them anyway? For faithful is the friend who remains supportive and encouraging. 

But please note, I am not speaking about truly abusive relationships. That is an entirely different situation we need to walk away from when no genuine remorse and change is made…despite what others think who don’t know the truth.

Which reminds me of the twelve disciples gathered around Jesus and their inner thoughts… no different than us. Unbeknownst to all but Jesus, one of their own—Judas—was in the process of selling out their Lord for thirty pieces of silver, even as they shared the Passover meal together. (Matthew 26:14-16, 17-30)

The disciples all knew how much Jesus loved them, so it must have caused great consternation as they heard Him warn Peter that before a rooster crowed twice, Peter would deny ever having known Jesus. (Mark 14:30)  They must have wondered how their Teacher could think such a thing, let alone say it! (Luke 22:31-34; Mark 14:27-31) Even Peter protested that he would rather go to prison or die with Jesus, than ever renounce his best friend!

After dinner, they went to the Garden of Gethsemane to rest and pray. Judas—who had left the table of his dining friends—eventually joined them, bringing along a large entourage of soldiers. And then he boldly gave Jesus a traitor’s kiss as soldiers surrounded his former teacher. To prove his own devotion to his best friend, Peter rashly sliced off the ear of one of the Roman guards with his sword. With tender love for those who meant him harm, Jesus gently restored the man’s ear and rebuked Peter for such hasty behavior. (John 18:10-11)

Surprisingly, as Jesus was being arrested, his closest friends… his followers...his disciples… turned their backs in abandonment and ran out of fear. (Mark 14:50-52) 

Later that evening as Peter warmed himself around a fire in the courtyard during Jesus’ trial, a servant girl thought she recognized him. Concerned for his own life after Jesus’ arrest, Peter vehemently denied being among Jesus’ closest friends. Three times he rebuked their remembrances, the last time swearing like the old fisherman that he was. A rooster crowed for the second time. Peter immediately recalled what Jesus had predicted. His heart sank in broken-hearted grief. He had vehemently denied that he’d ever do such a thing to his closest of friends, and yet that’s exactly what he had done. Feeling utterly ashamed and alone, he walked away from everyone, and wept tears of great sorrow and remorse. (Mark 14:66-72)

Once again, Peter had reacted rashly, thinking he was deflecting harm to himself by denying the truth without taking the time to think of the consequences. Yet, Peter loved his Lord.  And Jesus loved Pete...unequivocally. 

For after Jesus’ crucifixion and then resurrection, the angel in the tomb told the women, “[Jesus] is risen! He is not here… Go, tell His disciples and Peter.” To me, those words signify how deeply our Lord loved Peter. Despite Peter’s hasty denials, God wanted to be sure Peter heard and understood the good news! (Mark 16:7) 

In Luke 24:9-12, we read that as soon as Peter heard about Jesus’ resurrection, he got up and immediately ran to the tomb to check out the story’s validity for himself. So like our impetuous Peter, isn’t it?!  But it also shows how deeply Peter truly loved his Lord!

Some days later, unexpectedly meeting their Lord on the shore of Galilee after fishing all night, John retold for us how Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. With a tone of voice that likely reflected his deepest feelings, Peter was irritated and hurt that Jesus would ask him the same question for a third time. And Peter gave the same response each time, “You know I love you!”  (John 21:15-17)  Yet it was all done to help Peter understand that he was truly loved and forgiven for his denials because of his repentant heart…and that Jesus was now giving Him a second chance with a new responsibility. Peter was to reach out to a world of hurting souls with the same love that he had been given from Jesus after his own failures! 

The reason Jesus was born into this world, the reason He died on a cross, was to pay for the sinful deeds we’ve done, no matter their size. “For we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption of Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)  

As we confess our sins and need for a Savior, we receive God’s most gracious gift of forgiveness. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) 

What depths of mercy and grace are ours! A Blessed and Happy Easter to each of you!

Do You Love Me?

by Linda A. Roorda

Do you love me? More than all these?

You know I do, Lord!  A loving friendship.

You know my thoughts, my words and my ways,

Surely you know how deep is my love.

Do you love me? Do you truly love?

You know I do, Lord!  I’d sacrifice self.

Then feed My sheep, meet them in their need,

Go to My flock, and lead them in truth.

Do you love me? With your heart and soul?

Oh Lord, I am grieved!  My heart has been stabbed.

But oh! the shame of having denied

One with whom I’d walked, the leader of hearts.

Did you not warn of what was to come?

I pledged you my love above all others.

I’d follow you Lord, even unto death!

I’d never disown my Savior, my God.

But when confronted, my heart shrank in fear.

I heard my own words deny with alarm.

Twice more they claimed I was with the condemned,

When out of my mouth came vicious cursing.

I winced in shock to hear the cock crow.

My heart sank in shame for what I had done.

My Lord had said deny Him I would,

Now all I could do was bitterly weep.

You gazed thru my heart. You saw my soul’s depth.

You poured out Your love though faithless was I.

And now, Lord, you ask, do I truly love?

Yes, Lord, I do! With heart, soul and mind.

Then tenderly care for the sheep of My fold.

Go to the fields and guide them in truth.

Feed them my Word, everlasting life.

Shower with mercy and grace in My name.

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