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Lent is a time for Christians to fully examine their relationship with the Lord. Through prayer, sacrifice and service, we develop an understanding of what it means to "take up your cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) As Christians, we are called to live Christ's life- not to study the life of Jesus and try to be like Him, but actually let Him live through us.

In my own journey this Lent, Our Lord is asking me to fully understand His love. Through several prayer experiences, I hear him calling me to this deeper understanding of His love- not just with my head, but with my heart. And the key to understanding that amazing love is to understand His suffering. My intellect understands that the Lord suffered, but I have never explored His suffering with my heart. His love is greater than His suffering, but how great was that suffering?

I am participating in an independent Threshold Bible Study called People of the Passion by Stephen J. Binz. In this study, I will explore the meaning of discipleship through the people who encounter Jesus during His passion. These people witness and are impacted by the suffering of Jesus. They saw the suffering of our Lord first hand. It is my hope that by going on this journey through their eyes, I will have a better understanding of His suffering and then of His love.

Please know that I am not a scholar. I have no formal education in theology, philosophy or church history. I'm just a regular person trying to make sense of what Jesus is asking me to do- to love like He loves.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 6- Peter Vows Fidelity to Jesus

Matthew 26:30-35

18 Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, "This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken, 19 for it is written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed'; but after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee." Peter said to him in reply, "Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be." 20 Jesus said to him, "Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." Peter said to him, "Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you." And all the disciples spoke likewise.

After they shared the passover meal, Jesus and the disciples sang the traditional Hallel (Psalm 114-118) which talks of how God doesn't abandon Israel in times of trial.  Then He tells His disciples that they will abandon Him.  Peter reacts how I think I would react.  He says that he would never abandon Jesus.  And by doing that, Peter sets himself up for failure.  I think we all know what happens in the moments before the cock crows. 

I think it is easy to state your claim to something when you are not in the midst of trial.  But when you are thrown into that trial, your real claims and values shine through.  That is what happened to Peter.  When the Lord was with him, Peter was confident that he would stay faithful.  But when the Lord was no longer in his presence- when the Lord was being tried, accused and handed over to death, Peter failed.  When Peter's faith was tested in a time of trial, he failed.  Peter was a disciple who LOVED our Lord.  And he made it known how much he loved Him.  I can only imagine how horrible Peter must have felt.  That failure must have struck his very core. 

I remember when I went to confession for the first time after 10 years of general absence from God and church.  And I was struggling to put my sin into words.  I remember telling the priest that I felt like Peter.  I had denied our Lord.  I had abandoned Him.  I had failed.  In my youth, I proudly proclaimed my love for the Lord.  But when things got complicated in my life, I abandoned Him.  I tried to live life with out him.  And I had failed.  I needed Him back.

There is something that Peter and I have in common.  The Lord came back.  He rose from the grave and conquered all our failures.  He gives us life that we do not deserve.  He knows our failures and yet he still loves us- enough to die for us.  That is an amazing love.  It is a love I want to participate in for the rest of my life and, Lord willing, for eternity.

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