Monday, March 10, 2014

Falling and getting back up again

Mark 14 recounts the familiar story of Jesus predicting that Peter will deny knowing him three times before the rooster crows -- in other words, before dawn.  Peter's fervent promise to stand by Jesus is usually what stands out to me when I read this story. Of course, we know the truth. Jesus was right. All heck broke loose when a bunch of armed guards showed up to arrest Jesus. His followers who had promised to die by his side ran for their lives, leaving Jesus to face the soldiers and priests on his own. Peter lurked nearby but denied any affiliation with Jesus when confronted by those in the crowd.

What struck me as I read this passage today, though, was something different. Back in verse 27, Jesus begins by telling the disciples that they will all desert him. But then in verse 28 he says, "But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there."

These words seem like a foretaste of grace and forgiveness. Jesus has just informed his closest friends that they will abandon him in his hour of greatest need. But then he turns around and tells them that he'll be waiting for them at a pre-arranged meeting spot.  No scolding or shaming, no guilt trips. Just a simple, "Yep, you're going to turn your back on me, and then we'll meet up later."  Clean slate. And the sure knowledge that even though they are going to abandon him for awhile, they'll be back by his side before long.

Yes, Jesus could see their future failures. But he was also aware of -- and careful to tell them about -- their future obedience and his future grace.

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