Scorched, But Deeply Loved

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Peter on the spot

“Then Jesus said to Peter, “Go away from me, Satan! You are not helping me! You don’t care about the things of God, but only about the things people think are important.”

Matt. 16:23, NCV

Principles of the Kingdom will often will sound like a simple conversation to an outsider.  Things are often established or nullified with a ‘face-to-face.’  In this chapter of Matthew we hear Peter extolling the divinity of Jesus (vv. 15-17).  Peter exceeds the norm with his analysis of what is real. It is as perceptive as it is supernatural.  “You are the Christ,” Peter proclaims, “the Son of the Living God.”  Jesus responds to this and Jesus praises him for this insight.

One of my personal problems is that I am way too spontaneous.  It gets me in trouble. I have become a fool more times than I bother to count.  I will do something that is outrageously amazing– and in a short time I am flirting with apostasy.  Often this is indicative of bipolar disorder, a mental illness of some considerable significance.

I’m not sure why Peter does what he does.  But just a short time after he makes his astonishing pronouncement, he is taken apart by Jesus, being solidly rebuked ‘face-to-face.’  In one clear moment he expresses an awesome and wonderful faith, and suddenly his personal stock suddenly and precipitously crashes.  He is now a pariah that needs to be avoided. Every disciple will be scorched. But loved.

This is quite bitter. It seems that in the light from this chapter (actually seems like a bright glare,) Peter is astonishingly quite devastated.  In three years of discipleship it seems that all he merits is a brutal ‘dressing-down.’

The rebuke is bitter.  Peter is being compared to Satan!

In a blur of just a few minutes he moves from “hero-to-goat.”  I suspect that Peter was ashamed.  He most likely wished he had a “rewind button.”  His savior, Jesus– has given him a new label.  And it hurts.  Many times, we would become resentful, maybe a bit bitter.  It could cause some to walk away, developing an anger that solidifies into something very scary. Thank God, Peter doesn’t do anything stupid.

 The correction in the rebuke gives him life, and a hope.

But who’s to say we would be as correctable?  One thing to add, earlier we mentioned the ‘conversational approach’ of discipleship.  Peter was rebuked in the presence of the other disciples.  The publicity was embarrassing.  Too many people were watching and listening. Peter will survive this, but he has learned something valuable.

Our daily commitment to Jesus hinges on our willingness to be “undone.”  His heart and plan pretty much precludes any “secret or hidden” agenda.  Jesus pretty much rakes us over the coals.  He will insist on an uncompromising obedience to His faithfulness.  Every true disciple will be scorched— but loved.

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Do You Love Me?

 

“When they finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” 

   He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” 

   Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 

   Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” 

   He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” 

   Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 

John 21:15-16

This is a favorite passage for believers throughout the whole world.  I think the reason is that it’s a transferable concept; it is something that communicates well to a heart and life that is struggling very hard.  If you think about it everything in the story is coming to us from two places.  Either Peter’s failure, or Jesus’ grace.

Failure is a brutal teacher; but man, do you learn! Much of the teaching had already been done in Peter’s life. His denial and cowardice had already been worked out, and Peter then had to live with himself.  He was defeated and very lost before this meeting on the beach.

Jesus’ heart is to reconcile his errant disciple with Him, and with Peter himself.  Peter is stuck; in his own failure and denial, and he needs Jesus to touch him in His own impenetrable darkness.  People who have failed God will understand this.  We have been in the darkness, and only Jesus can rescue us from its empty pain.

We see what amounts to a ‘good’ interrogation.  Peter, the failure, is asked over and over by Jesus the “Question”.  “Do you love me?  This is a simple and basic inquiry.  “Do you love me?”

Peter in his pathetic state, is forced to generate a response to Jesus that destroys his own confusion and apathy.  It’s neat to see Jesus pulverizing the foundations of darkness in Peter’s life.  He does it with a skill and deftness that leaves us in awe of Jesus’ love. Peter had denied knowing the Lord three times. It is fitting that Jesus would ask His question three times as well.

For us, the questions keep coming.  We are repeatedly asked, over and over, “do you love me?”  We must process the penetration of the question.  Do you really, really love Jesus?  Is it a show? Do we really love Him, or is it just words, a misbegotten display of cultural appropriateness?

Jesus moves Peter into the light.  Never again will he live in confusion and despair.  His interview with Jesus has placed him there, into the light.  Jesus’ incredibly wise questions led Peter to the place of authenticity.  Peter, from this new place of completeness and recovery, is finally restored and healed.

But do we love Him?  Do we turn the ministry we do, whatever that might be, does it come from a place of love and confidence.  Our love for Him is the essential basis, the root foundation of all Christian activity.  It’s all about the “love”.  “Do you love me?”

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Impulsive Peter

Peter was the magnificent failure.  But I’m grateful for his story.  As we examine his life and his actions and decisions, we see a man who was so much like us.  I relate and understand Peter more then any other disciple in the New Testament.  He was so real. He was so impulsive. He spoke before he thought, jumped in without looking and acted without thinking it through. Let’s take a look at Peter’s life after he met Jesus.

1) Peter, the fisherman-– When Jesus came to where  the boat was kept, Peter latched on immediately to become a disciple.  Jesus said, “Follow Me” and that is all Peter needed to hear.  (Matt 4:18-20; Matt. 14:25-31).

2) Peter, the bold-– There was a situation on a boat in a terrible storm.  It was between 3:00 am and 6:00 am.  These men are desperately exhausted, and they were still three miles from safety.  They suddenly see what appears to be a ghost, walking through the vicious storm to the boat.  It is Jesus!  He is walking on water, as if it were a sidewalk!

Peter shouts out– “Lord, if it is really you, allow me to leave this boat and let me come to you!”  Peter steps out of the boat, and begins to walk– on water!  But the wind whipping frightened him, and he began to sink.  We see Jesus, reaching out to grab Peter, to save him from drowning.  Before we judge him too harshly, how many of us would do what Peter did?

3) Peter, the confessor— Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was. Peter was the first to acknowledge Jesus’ deity as the Son of the living God. (Matt. 16:15-16)

4) Peter, the witness— Peter, along with James and John, have been chosen to accompany Jesus to go up to a mountain top to pray.  When they arrive, something happens to Jesus.  He is ‘transfigured’, His clothes shimmer and turn white.    Then Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with Jesus. Being a man of action and not knowing what else to do, Peter offered to build shelters for the three holy men. An authoritative voice from heaven let him know that this was a time to worship, and to learn (Matt 17:1-4, Luke 9:28-36).

5) Peter, the reluctant one— Just before their last Passover, Jesus starts acting strange.  He strips off His outer garments, until He is down to His underwear.  He fills a basin with water, grabs a towel, and then begins to wash everyone’s feet.  He has become the servant to His disciples.  And Jesus will declare that this specific path is for every disciple that will follow.  Peter is incensed, and declares himself to be immune from this claim.

6) Peter, the boaster— Jesus explains that the disciples cannot follow Him.   Peter boasted that he would lay down his life for Jesus. This brought Jesus’ prediction that Peter would deny Him three times that very night. I wonder what Peter thought about this. He may have found it hard to believe, but we know that Jesus never lies.

When Jesus is arrested, Peter follows the cohort into the Temple.  It is at this point, Peter begins to outright deny Jesus.  It seems Peter can’t vocalize any support for His teacher and master.  In his craven fear, Peter denies Him who spoke and taught him.  How very sad,  (John 13 and 18).

7) Peter the repentant— Jesus appeared to them again by the Sea of Gaililee.  It is Peter, who from his fishing boat, identifies Jesus as Jesus.  Once again, he jumps out of the boat, but this time to swim to the shore.  The others follow in the boat.  Jesus has started a fire, and fish are frying. On the shore, when they had finished eating, Jesus restores Peter. Peter reaffirmed his love for Jesus three times – the same number of times he had denied Him. Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.”

From that point, Peter followed Jesus closely. He went on to be a great preacher of the gospel and a leader of the church. He wrote 1st and 2nd Peter in the New Testament.  In the Book of Acts, we see Peter cooperating closely with the Holy Spirit.  His compulsiveness has been majorly modified and adapted to fit into the Kingdom.  Peter is now a man restrained and directed into God’s Kingdom.

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Overcoming Fear of Death [GotQuestions.org]

Question: “How can I overcome the fear of death? How can I stop being scared of dying?”

Answer: Even the most secure, devout believer can have occasions when they fear death. It is hard-wired into our systems to avoid death. And death was not an original part of God’s plan for His creation. We were made to be whole and holy, living in paradise in communion with Him. The introduction of death was a necessary response to the admittance of sin into the world. It is a grace that we die. If we didn’t, we would have to live in a sinful world for all eternity.

Knowing that in your head doesn’t necessarily counteract the visceral reaction to the thought of your own mortality. The fragility of our physical bodies and the sudden cessation of life are violent reminders of our lack of control in a large, dangerous world. We do have a great hope, that He Who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). And He did go to prepare a place for us so that we can join Him (John 14:2). But it might help to consider the more immediate, practical considerations we’re faced with.

Beginning with, what is the actual fear? There are several aspects of death that can potentially cause fear. Fortunately, God has an answer for each of them.

Fear of the unknown
What exactly does it feel like to die? What can you see as your life leaves your physical body? How will it come about? Is it anything like people have reported—a bright light? A group of relatives?

No one knows for certain what it feels like, but the Bible does describe what happens. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 and Philippians 1:23 say that when we leave our body, we are at home with the Lord. What a reassuring thought! We will stay in this state until Christ comes and resurrects the believers (1 Corinthians 15:20-226:14) when we will be given a new, glorified body.

Fear of loss of control
By the time humans reach adulthood, they have a pretty good idea how to interact with the world around them. They know how to find what they need, get to where they want to be, and interact with others in a way that fulfills their intent.

Many though, even those who profess a trust in God, are so fearful of not getting what they need that they feel they have no choice but to manipulate their surroundings and the people around them to their benefit. We have all met men and women who abuse and grasp out of fear. They don’t trust God to provide for their needs, so they take care of things themselves. They don’t trust others to give them consideration, so they demand what they think they need.

How much more they must fear the loss of control upon their deaths. As Jesus said to Peter, describing how he would die, “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go” (John 21:18). Before Peter got this warning, he denied Jesus out of fear. Directly after, he reacted by demanding to know how John was going to die. But after Jesus returned to heaven, Peter took the gift of the Holy Spirit and became a new person—one whose passion for Christ’s message far out-stripped his need to control his surroundings (Acts 5:17-42). The Holy Spirit alone gave him the strength to face whatever challenges he might face.

Fear for those left behind
The Christian view of death is “separation.” Ultimate death is separation from God. With physical death, we will be separated from our loved ones on Earth for a time. If they are also Christians, we know that the separation will be a short blink of an eye compared to the eternity we’ll spend with them in heaven. If they are not Christians, that will not be the case. Our commission, then, becomes to use this time together to talk to them about where they will go when they die. Ultimately, however, the decision rests with them. Just as God gives them the room to choose, we must also.

Fear of the act of dying. Few of us know how we will die. Quick and painless, in our sleep, a long drawn out illness—the mystery of it, the inability to prepare, can be frightening. If we do know, if we’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, it can still be scary.

But it is only a moment. A moment nearly everyone has gone through or will go through. And, when that moment is over, we can claim Philippians 3:20-21: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Often, being informed and actively participating can help assuage fear. You can take steps to prepare yourself and those around you.

Overcoming the fear of death – Practical steps
Many people believe they shouldn’t die because they have too much to live for. Often, this means they have responsibilities and unfinished business that wouldn’t be taken care of if they were gone. But having people and things you are responsible for won’t keep you from dying if it’s your time. Doing what you can to make sure they’re seen to can alleviate fear.

If you have a business or children or other dependents, consider their care. Decide who will take over your role and work with that person to come up with a plan. Look into a will or a trust. Make sure all of your necessary paperwork is organized and easy to find. Reconcile broken relationships before you’re unable to. But don’t live for dying. There’s a difference between taking reasonable steps and obsessing.

Overcoming the fear of death – Physical steps
If you have strong feelings about what you want to happen to you should you become incapacitated, express them now. It’s entirely possible that during the course of an illness or injury, you’ll lose control over the situation and be unable to make your wishes known. Get a living will. Let those closest to you know what you want—or at least tell them where it’s written down. Choose someone you trust to be authorized to make decisions for you should you become unable.

Overcoming the fear of death – Spiritual steps
These are all steps to keep up responsibilities or maintain a measure of control in the worldly realm, but they don’t get to the meat of the matter. The most important thing to remember regarding death is the truth about life. You love your family and care for them, but God loves them more. You may worry about your Earthly legacy, but God’s more concerned with a kingdom perspective. All the paperwork in the world won’t bring the peace of mind of once simple action: abide.

In the middle of living this life, with these people, in this world, it’s difficult to keep in mind that this is just a temporary condition, and not a very good one at that. 1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” How we remember this is by abiding (1 John 2:24). Staying in the truth of His Word, believing what He says about us and the world around us, will give us the proper perspective regarding this life and the one we will receive.

When we are able to keep that kingdom perspective, we’ll be able to fulfill 1 John 3:1-3: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are, for this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” It will be so evident that we do not belong in this world that others will see it, too. We will so take ownership of our position as children of God that we will actively seek the day we can be like Christ and see Him as He is.

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Recommended Resource: One Minute After You Die, Updated Edition by Erwin W. Lutzer.

This is derived from a wonderful site– gotquestions.org. I rarely share something this bold or lengthy but this sort of connected and so I simply pass on what I’ve received. No editing, crimping or adjusting.

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Becoming a Part of What is Really Real

 

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“Six days later, three of them saw that glory. Jesus took Peter and the brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from his face. His clothes were filled with light.”

Matthew 17:1-2, The Message

These three disciples belonged to the inner circle of our Lord’s friends. There must have been something in them that peculiarly endeared them to Him. We know that Peter was a leader among the apostles, and also a bold confessor; that John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved;” and that James was the first of the band to die as a martyr.

It is very encouraging to look at Peter who was admitted to such high privileges; a man with so many faults, who made so many mistakes, who even at the last shamefully denied Christ, and yet we remember that he was one of our Lord’s closest friends. It gives encouragement to us that, with all our faults, we may yet be very dear to Christ.

It does not seem so strange that John was allowed to enter the inner circle. His disposition was gentle and amiable, very much like the Master’s. Yet it is probable that John owed his sweetness and gentleness of character to his being with Jesus. It could be he was not always a man of love.

rose-little1There is a Persian fable of a piece of clay made fragrant by lying on a rose; the perfume of the rose passed into the clay. So it probably was with John. He crept into his Master’s bosom, and lay close to His heart; and his Master’s spirit of love and gentleness passed into his life and transformed it. Thus we have a lesson, too, from John: constant and loving communion with Christ will change us into His likeness.

The lesson from this choosing of three out of the whole band for peculiar privileges is that while Jesus loves all His friends, there are certain ones whom He takes into closer confidence than the others. There are degrees of nearness to Him, even in this world. Should we not strive to be among those who, by disposition and by service, win their way to the closest places? We must remember that those who serve most are chiefest. –JRM

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kyrie elesion, Bryan

(Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner)
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Gethsemane Unappreciated

” Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?” 

Mark 14:37

I honestly think what broke Jesus up the most was being disappointed by His trusty disciples.  This was devastating.  I believe that He was counting on the disciples to be there for Him.  They simply fell asleep while sitting with Jesus. Now it’s no secret that we need sleep.  Sleeping is a part of life, it is something that we require.  But we can forego it, without too many issues.  Truck drivers and med interns do it all the time–it’s no big deal.

But precious Peter sleeps through the most critical time of His best friends life–even after an explanation.  Jesus craves their closeness.  The humanness of Jesus yearns for His friends–His companions. He was lonely, and alone.

robin1aThere is a legend of the Brittany peasants that explains how the robin got its red breast. As Jesus was being led out to Calvary, a bird, pitying Him, flew down and plucked one thorn from the crown of thorns He wore. The blood spurted from the wound and splashed the bird’s breast.  It would be from that moment on the bird with the red breast– the valiant robin.

The robin did what it could.  The disciples didn’t. After sleeping for a bit, they would scatter.  They gave Jesus no solace, no comfort. All they did was to make Gethsemane harder.  Death was something Jesus knew was imminent.  The torture would brutalize Him even before the cross.  But, He would go it alone, without His friends.  Jesus would take all the sin on His shoulders and carry it away from us.

Today, we can make up for the disciples gross negligence. In some way, we can sit with Jesus, and spend time with Him, alert to the intercessory burden He carries for the Church. It is an active ministry of simple availability to being used in this way.

“Christ bears the wounds of the church, his body,  just as he bore the wounds of crucifixion. I sometimes wonder which have hurt worse.”

Philip Yancey

“So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore.  14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”

Hebrews 13:13-14

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Especially Peter, [Dynamite]

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“Now go and tell his disciples, and especially Peter, that he will go ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.”

Mark 16:7, CEV

Poor Peter.  He despairs over his personal darkness, and has been completely undone.  He is totally disconsolate, beyond any human help.  No one can help him at this point, and he can not find anyway out. This can happen to us as well. He is at his weakest at this point.

Jesus had called him, “the Rock.”  But this was a bestowed nickname of a future transformation.  There is a journey Peter must make first. We use granite and marble when we want something to last for ages.  It is as permanent as we can make it. And yet, Peter is hardly rock-like; at best he crumbles like sandstone.

Visiting a working quarry, you will find large machinery.  Men scale the walls with heavy drills.  At just the right spot they begin to bore a hole.  It is hard and intense work, but they are persistent.  The rock is unyielding, but they work relentlessly.

Soon they take the hole to the proper depth.  Explosives are hauled up, And the hole is carefully packed.  The word used in the New Testament is the word “dunamis.”  It is translated from the Greek into English as “power.”  Our word for “dynamite” is also a translation of that word.

Peter needs the dynamite power of the Holy Spirit. It is explosive.  It breaks and blasts, moving many tons of rock in just seconds. These particular verses read differently when translated like this:

  •  “But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the dynamite of God.” Matthew 22:29
  • “And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory with dynamite and great glory.” Matthew 24:30
  • “Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the dynamite proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” Mark 5:30
  • “And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known; and people were saying, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous dynamite are at work in Him.” Mark 6:14
  • “And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with dynamite.” Mark 9:1
  • “But you will receive dynamite when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Jesus looks after each disciple after his resurrection.  And especially Peter.  He will need this new power to overcome his weaknesses.

His disciples, in just 50 days are going to meet the Holy Spirit.  All of them will find that explosive power that moves mountains.  And the world is about to change forever.

Peter was so transformed on Pentecost he would preach and 3,000 would believe and be baptised. He went from cowardly denier to bold preacher. The dunamis of God changed him that day (Acts 2).

 

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