53 and counting….

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I turned 53 yesterday. That puts me two years away from a senior citizen’s discount. I’m trying to wrap my brain around the fact that in seven years. Lord willing, I’ll be sixty. Say what? After 50 birthdays start to become more and more important. (insert chuckle here)

It’s kinda weird to celebrate 53 years, partly because I still feel much younger than that. Even though it takes me longer to get up out of a chair, and I’m getting used to the fact that I can’t read anything without whipping out my reading glasses, I still feel pretty young. I still have lots of energy…most of the time, but I go to bed much earlier now than I did just a few years ago. But whatever delusions of immortality I had in my twenties are long gone. I know that one day this earthly life will come to an end, and statistically, that could happen in just a couple of decades, despite my hopes of living to be a hundred ( I think that would be very cool but only God knows about that.).

It’s kinda creepy to think about your life ending, but at my age I can’t help but at least tip my hat in acknowledgement to that weird guy with a sickle, standing in the shadows. I know one day he’s gonna come knocking and escort me to glory. Fortunately, because of Jesus the trip will be a short passage into life. I think if it weren’t for Jesus I would be in great fear of death. How sad it would be to think that my life was just an existence until death. But I have great hope that this short life is just  a warm up for eternity.

However, despite my great hope, I still feel some apprehension about the future. I’m done looking back with regret about the past. I’ve looked back and seen God’s hand on my life and for that I give thanks. God has blessed me beyond my expectations. But I can see also that I wasted a lot of my life being way too self concerned. God has graciously worked in and through this little clay pot of a life despite some basic mistakes. Here’s a short list of things I could get really depressed about if I tried.

  1. Too much talking. Too little listening.
  2. Too many hours spent on computer games. Too little on relationships.
  3. Too much time looking for affirmation. Too little time giving it.
  4. Too much self preservation. Too little self sacrifice.
  5. Too much concern for appearances. Too little concern for substance.
  6. Too much convenience. Too little perseverance.
  7. Too much fear. too little faith.
  8. Too much self. Too little others.
  9. Too much resentment. Too little forgiveness.
  10. Too much flesh. Too little Spirit.

I’ve spent enough time thinking about previous years and how I could have given more and loved better. I wept. I’ve confessed. I’ve mended fences…or at least tried, some refuse to mend. But as the Bible says, “There’s a time to weep and a time to laugh.” I’m done trying to fix yesterday. It’s time to move ahead into the life God has for me and my loved ones.

The great news of the Gospel is that God is always calling us forward to new life. I’m ready to move into the gift of life with a new zeal for God and His kingdom. In my short 53 years, despite all the ups and downs, one thing has remained. Jesus Christ, my wonderful savior has held my hand all the way. His love is greater than my regrets, stronger than my fears, and more powerful than my insecurities.

He has been unswervingly faithful and undeniably capable in all situations.My king has kept me in His nail scarred hands even in my worst moments. He has given me a wonderful family, amazing friends and tremendous opportunities. The great news is that no matter how long I live on this planet the best is always yet to come. Quite frankly, I have no intention of winding down at this point. My God has given me a great gospel to preach and a great life to live and I feel that I’m just now getting started. I want the second half to be greater than the first. I want my life to burst with God’s glory so brightly that you’ll have to wear sunglasses to my funeral!

If you have read this far, thank you for indulging me. I want to encourage you to live your life completely for Jesus Christ. He is the very ground of your existence. He is the reason for every breath you breathe. He alone can give meaning and lasting purpose to your life. In fact, He alone can give you your life. To Him be the glory now and forever. Amen.

 

 

 

 

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Three things you need to know before you walk out the door.

“And we are witness to these things and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”  (Acts 5:32)

The Apostles were on trial for preaching the gospel. Don’t kid yourself, the day is fast approaching when the church in America will be forbidden to boldly preach the gospel. But the Apostles boldly proclaimed anyway, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Only that power can enable us to faithfully proclaim the gospel, not the churchy feel good message of those who would water it down, but the gospel…the one in the Bible, that still calls people to repentance of sin and faith in the crucified, risen and returning Christ.

The Apostles of this century will boldly preach this gospel by the power of the Spirit. In the verse above we see three things any serious disciple needs to know about the Holy Spirit. Go back and read it again. In short form, here are the three things you need to know before you walk out the door.

1. The Holy Spirit has made you a witness. They said, “We are witnesses…” Earlier, Jesus had told the apostles, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses….” The Spirit came upon them and gave them a Holy boldness and power to be witnesses of the good news of Jesus Christ. You may not have seen him raised from the dead, but you are a witness of what Jesus has done in your life. The Holy Spirit will give you power to boldly proclaim your unique gospel message. Not your own Gospel, but your own experience with the good news of Christ. Without that power you cannot be an effective witness.

2. The Holy Spirit bears witness to Christ. “And so is the Holy Spirit…” The Holy Spirit came alongside the Apostles to confirm their message with powerful signs and wonders. He still does that today. When the gospel witness goes out, the Holy Spirit steps in and demonstrates the reality of Jesus life. Do you expect God to show up in power when you witness? He longs to come alongside and show the truth of the gospel. So how do you get this power in your life?

3. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God. “Who has been given to those who obey him.” The Apostles experienced the power of the Spirit as they stepped out in faith and obedience. Friend, if you want to experience the Spirit’s power in your life, get up off your pew and go do something about the great commission. I’ll tell you that is the only way you will really experience his power. Some are wasting away wondering why God isn’t more real to them. Listen,  God will be as real to you as your obedience is to him. No excuses, no games. When you get out there and get about the business of communicating the gospel, God will show up in power.

So before you go out today know this, You are a witness of what Jesus Christ has done for you. Second, The Holy Spirit is also a witness of who who Jesus is. In other words, you give witness and He bears witness. Third, power follows obedience, nothing less. Now go out today and see what God will do when you obey his call.

Did he or didn’t he?

Mark 16:9-13

“and they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.” v. 13

“Enough!” Peter shouted. His eyes were weary with grief but still had enough fire in them to burn your skin right off. In three years the disciples had learned when to back off and just let the big fisherman alone.

“I expect such tales from that crazy Magdalene woman, but you should know better! He’s dead! Gone. And if I hear any more of these wishful stories you just might join him. Besides if he were alive do you think he’d ever trust us again?”

Peter stormed out and climbed up on the roof top to be alone.

The two who had claimed they had seen Yeshua sat on the floor and looked hopefully around the room to the others. The other eight men swam around in awkward silence trying to avoid eye contact. It was clear that no one in the room was ready to believe that Yeshua was actually alive. After a few moments the silence gave way to Levi’s words to the two men.

“Brothers, I know these have been terrible days for you..for all of us. There is not a man here who would not want to see Yeshua alive again….”

“Levi we talked with him!…He said…” Levi holds his hand up.

“I know you two met someone who reminded you of him, and you felt a fire burning in your heart. Maybe God sent someone along who reminded you of Yeshua to comfort you. It’s okay to feel this way, but He’s gone. You’re going to have to face that.”

The two looked hopelessly at one another. One started to speak, but the other said, “It’s no use. We shouldn’t have expected…”

Bartholomew tried to reason with them. “You know brothers, in a sense Yeshua is alive. In our hearts. Yes. In a spiritual way. We can believe he is alive, because he lives in our memory.”

The two didn’t respond, but the others seemed to take comfort in that. Then from the entrance of the room another voice cutting through the dusty air.

” Leave it to a group of men to miss the obvious!” Dumbfounded, the men turned to see Mary Magdalene glaring at them like a mother reprimanding her sons. Then she mockingly waved her hands and pranced around the room mimicking Bartholomew’s words in a deep man voice,

“Maybe he lives in our memory. Maybe in a Spiritual sense he is alive. Blah Blah Blah! Are you serious? Why did Yeshua call such thickheaded men!”

She stood there with both hands on her hips, and in a confrontive stance. One they had seen from her many times. Andrew looked at the stairway praying Peter didn’t come down. She just glared defiantly, “Where is that Simon Peter! Bring him down here. He doesn’t scare me!”

Nobody moved.

“Look at you little boys, sitting here feeling sorry for yourselves. Three of us have seen him in person, The other women went to the tomb and it’s empty….”

Thaddeus weakly suggested, “Maybe somebody stole him…”

“From under the noses of Roman soldiers, they moved a gigantic stone, and just walked away with a dead body? I suppose the whole squad just happened to fall asleep at the same time, and nobody heard the noise.” Mary placed both fingers on her temples and closed her eyes.

“Men”

The another said, “Um maybe Yeshua wasn’t really dead and when he came too he pushed the stone and escaped….”

Everyone laughed at the idea of that one. A man having endured such blood loss, suddenly finding the strength to move a half ton stone then sneak past a squad of soldiers,undetected, didn’t seem too likely.

Mary Magdalene looked out the window then at the two who had claimed to see him alive. Then she took a deep breath and spoke a final word. By this time Simon Peter was standing at the end of the staircase. Mary fired the next words right between his eyes.

“You men have a decision to make. You can sit here and rationalize and feel sorry for yourselves, coming up with theories you can feel comfortable with if you want to. You can all sneak back to your lives acting as if nothing happened, and forget all Yeshua has done. That will certainly be easier. Or you can put on your big boy clothes and take a chance that maybe Yeshua, as always, did what he said he would do. He said he would be killed and on the third day rise again. So did he or didn’t he? ”

Then she turned, threw up her hands and walked out, “Men! Can’t do anything with them.”

I won the shirt off his back!

Mark 15:21-32

“And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.” v. 24

I never was very successful at gambling, but today I lucked out. Usually, when we cast lots in the barracks I end up losing the shirt off my back. I just can’t seem to get those things to land in my favor. So after awhile I decided games of chance were best left to the older, more experienced soldiers. This afternoon, however, I was feeling lucky.

As I said yesterday I had cross duty after the “morning exercise” with that Nazarene. I was still pretty shaken by the whole thing, trying to figure out what this man had done to unleash the rage of two kingdoms. How could such a gentle character end up in so much trouble? He must have really angered the gods. Or maybe it was some kind of set up. Yeah that had to be it. He must have been taking the fall for somebody else. He had to be.

Anyway, I spent the afternoon trying to push my sensitivities to the back and focus on doing my job. We marched him through the streets, keeping our eyes open for sympathizers who may try to interfere. But it seemed like, aside from a few old women, this guy didn’t have a friend in the world. I watched him stumble through the streets with that cross beam on his back. Talk about carrying the world on your shoulders. This guy sure seemed to be. I had to get a bystander to carry it for him, and tried to ignore the man’s kids crying as he left them behind.

Finally, we arrived at the usual spot along the highway, affectionately named “The skull place”, or Golgotha, and began the messy part. This whole crucifixion thing is pretty gruesome work. It usually takes several of us to hold the prisoner down and shut him up while we fasten him to the cross. But Yeshua creeped me out. Even through the blood and torn flesh he seemed in control of himself, and to some extent, everyone else.

The other two screamed like pigs but this Yeshua character was as quiet as a lamb. Oh don’t get me wrong. He was in real pain. I’m surprised he made it this far. But when I saw how intentionally he laid his arms out and braced himself I was stunned.

The rest of the afternoon, I stood there trying to make sense of this whole thing. Here’s a guy taking in more hate and mockery than you can imagine. He just took it all in, as if he were guilty of every evil in the whole world. The two guys on each side had the usual looks of hostility and fear, as they drowned in their own body fluids. But Yeshua seemed more concerned with the people around him. I just about lost it when he looked me straight in the eye, then looked up to the sky and said something like, “Father, forgive them…” Who was he talking to ? I’ve heard some crazy things from prisoners on crosses, but never anything like that. Was he praying to the gods for me? I found myself feeling for the guy again, so I looked away. That’s when I decided to take a gamble.

A few of the soldiers were shooting lots for his clothes. The only thing worth gambling for was his robe. You could tell it was handmade. They laughed when I said I wanted in, but they were as always, happy to see what they could get from me. I threw in half expecting to lose my shirt, again, but for the first time in my life the lot fell in my direction! “I won!” I shouted to the utter amazement, and curses, of my competitors.  “The gods are with me today!” I kept telling myself.

“Well, rookie, put it on and see if it fits!” One of the older guys snarled half jokingly. So I thought, “Why not.” I was pleased to see how easily it slipped over my armor. For a moment I pranced around in my new prize while the soldiers enjoyed some comic relief from the gruesome duties of the day. Then I heard something that stopped me in my tracks.

From the cross on the left I heard, “Yeshua, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Then from Yeshua, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” I couldn’t move. Standing there dressed in the robe of Yeshua I witnessed more mercy and love than I knew was possible. The robe seemed to shrink as I felt strangely embraced in it. How could a man so completely rejected love a common thief so freely. How could such an object of wrath emanate such love?

Suddenly standing there in that robe, I felt as if I were wearing more than a garment. I knew that I had spent my life killing but today I felt as if I had murdered a god. I felt condemned and yet strangely loved at the same time. I felt so unworthy that I tried to take the robe off, but I couldn’t get it off. It had come on so easily, but now it was like it was holding me and would not let go. Then one of the soldiers came up from behind and said, with a chuckle,

“Hey rookie, that robe has a great big blood stain on the back! Looks like you won’t be wearing that anywhere. That blood stain will never come out. “ The he walked away from me laughing and shaking his head. “Looks like you won the shirt off his back! Ha ha ha!”

I just stood there dressed in Yeshua’s robe. The blood stain was strangely comforting to me. Then I noticed the sky begin to darken. It was as if the gods themselves had stopped running the universe in honor of Yeshua, as if he were one of their own….

The exercise

Mark 15:16-20

“and they began to salute him, ‘Hail King of the Jews!'” v. 18

“Well, men I have a special treat for you today!” The commander blared in the kind of sarcastic tone only a military commander can master. We stood there a little unnerved as he went on.
“It seems these mewling Hebrews are bickering again, only this time they’ve handed over one of their Prophets for a little exercise.” 

Whenever our commander says “a little exercise” he says it with a sadistic bite that let’s us all know, somebody’s about to get a beating. I have to be honest, I kind of enjoyed these “exercises”.

I’ve been stationed here in this dirty place for six years now. I patrol the streets of this flea infested country and do what I can to keep peace. I haven’t seen my family or my home in forever, and with all the angry stares I wonder if I ever will again.  I have to watch my back every minute if I don’t want to find a dagger between my shoulders in some alley. 

I don’t speak Hebrew, but curses sound the same in any language. Don’t these fools know we’re here to improve their lives? If only they could see the glory of Rome and her gods, they would want to evolve out of this obsessive, intolerant religion of theirs.

So you can understand my sheer enjoyment when they bring us a piece of Hebrew flesh to butcher.  This one, they say, thinks he’s some kind of king. These Jews and their kings! What a joke. The commander speaks as they bring in the “King”

“Now men, we’re going to have a little coronation today. Just remember we have to keep this one alive because he has a full day ahead of him.” We all knew what that meant. Another stinking body hanging beside the highway. He would be crucified with the others.  

 “let’s get started.” We all had a good laugh watching the commander dress up “His majesty” in a robe and parade him around while we bowed mockingly. Then one of the Centurions made a crown  of thorns and slammed it down on his head with such force blood literally spit out in all directions. There he stood in the center of the pavement while we shouted, “Hail King of the Jews!” For the next hour or so we took turns unleashing our rage on him. He just stood there and took it. This was my chance to unload on these Hebrews and I meant to enjoy every moment of it. But I have to admit this Jew was a little different than most.

Most of the time they either fight back or they scream for mercy. I was kind of hoping he would too. But he just seemed to absorb it all. After awhile I stepped back to let some of the younger recruits get a few punches in, while I tended my knuckles. That’s when things became a little weird. I made a crucial mistake in my business. I started to feel for the guy. And I began to notice to looks on our faces, and what I could see of his.

Years ago when I was a young boy I saw a pack of wolves tear apart one of my father’s sheep. Today reminded me of that. We were a pack of wolves tearing apart an innocent sheep. This is why it’s not advisable to think too much at one of these exercises. Thinking leads to feeling and feeling makes you vulnerable. It’s best to keep up your guard or that lamb might get too close, then you’re done for.

I watched him in the midst of that pack. It was like he literally absorbed our hate for this people and their god. I found myself sinking back to the perimeter of the mob. All I could do was watch them toss him back and forth, sending his blood spattering on their faces. There wasn’t a man there who wasn’t covered in his blood.

I found it easier to stand in the back ground and join the chanting, “Hail King of the Jews!” but I found myself losing my sarcastic edge. I just kept saying it and watching him. “Hail …King…of the Jews!” Hoping this frenzy would soon end I chanted with an unexplainable sense of empathy, like I was starting the believe it. “Hail…King….”

Why was I weeping now? “Hail King…” My heart felt weak. I feared being noticed, so I made my way to an outer room. I looked down at my bloodied hands trying to understand what was happening to me. Weeping broke into a torrent of unexplainable sobs. I’ve done these “exercises” a hundred times. But this time I couldn’t escape the eerie feeling that something really terrible and powerful was happening.

Regaining my composure, I rushed back to the pavement, hoping no one saw my reddened eyes. The frenzy had stopped. The commander ripped off the mock robe and dressed him. All the soldiers stood there exhausted, some smiling, others maybe a little shaken. As they led him out I just stood in the back repeating those words, hoping no one would notice the change in my tone. “Hail King of the Jews!”

I spent the next hour cleaning up and trying to shake myself back to normal. I had been assigned to the execution in the afternoon. I tried to prepare, but nothing could prepare me for what would happen next.

Turnaround

Mark 15:6-15

“Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner…” v. 6

“So I get to be the carrot on the stick, eh?” Barabbas knew what this game was all about. He had seen it every year. “He stands there on his perch above those groveling puppies and tosses them a bone from the dungeon to keep them quiet.” The prisoner stabbed the guards a thousand times with his eyes while they walked him out of that rat hole.  He had to shield his eyes from the first sun he’d seen in days. The muffle of the gathering crowds blasted away a month of silence from his consciousness. “Look at them, like a bunch of hungry chickens at feeding time. Pathetic fools.”

Three men stood together waiting for a decision to be made. “Why don’t they just dispense with the formalities and get this over with?” He snarled. Hate filled him to overflowing and poured out in all directions. It washed over the crowd of puppets below, who would say or do anything to keep the breadcrumbs coming off the table. “If they put up with this Pilate, they deserve him!” Then it washed over the soldiers. “Prancing around with swords and spears spouting off about strength and honor. Cowards in armor, they are.” Then it splashed onto the religious leaders, buzzing in and out of the crowds like bees. “The only god they have is jingling in their purses.” But the tidal wave of his hostility crashed on the head of Pilate. “Our benevolent Governor, Pilate, one of Rome’s finest! Ha!” Barabbas greatest ambition was to “be the one who plunged the first dagger into that man’s pompous flesh, and rip open that sack of dung he calls a heart!” Then he glared across the pavement, just to the left of the Governor. “Who is that poor sap? Looks like the good governor can’t decide which carrot to throw”

Barabbas took a break from the circus around him to “study the competition.” Just to the left of the governor stood Yeshua of Nazareth. “What have we here?” he thought to himself. Yeshua stood quietly, hands and feet bound in the same fashion as Barabbas. His face was slightly swollen, blackish red fist prints decorated his cheek bones. Blood crept out the corner of one eyebrow, mingling with sweat and grime and traced the outside of his temple. “Looks like his troubles have just begun.” Barabbas thought to himself. Looking a little closer he began to recognize the man behind the blood and bruises. He heard someone say, “The Rabbi from Nazareth.” Barabbas had seen this man before. “I’m a dead man for sure.” He told himself. “There’s no way they’ll pick me over this one.”

Barabbas never was much for religion, or religious people. To him it was no less a game than politics. “It’s all to keep people in line!” He often said. He saw through the fake prayers of money hungry Pharisees. It was no different than Pilate’s pompous crowd pleasing prisoner releases and pompous speeches. The right words, the right motions can make people do whatever you want. But still he admired this Yeshua. Barabbas had heard him teach before being arrested. This rabbi seemed to at least believe his own words, unlike the others who used God to get people to follow them. “If there is a God, this guy knows him!” Yeshua seemed of a different stripe than the rest. Standing there, He looked more like a King, even a god, than a criminal. There was a serene sadness about him. What struck Barabbas the most was that this Yeshua seemed to be the only person in this whole circus who wasn’t thinking about himself.

“This is it.” He thought. “No way they’ll pick me.” He looked down at the religious leaders, as they milled about the crowds. He could tell they were doing what they did best. They were working the crowds to sway them. “I’m sunk now.” He thought. Surely they were out to save the good man on the left. “Even religious people know the difference between good and evil, don’t they? They’ll surely pick one of their own to save.”

Silence fell beneath the Governor’s outstretched hand.  “Who shall I release to you? The King of the Jews? or this murderer.” Barabbas could feel his whole life crashing down on his shoulders. He knew this was it. Once the leaders got the crowds on their side, they would save their King, and Barabbas would be killed. “This is one decision they’ll get right for a change.” Barabbas thought. He knew he was guilty, and this Yeshua had been clearly set up by someone who wanted him dead. No sense in hoping for mercy, he knew his fate was sealed.

In the next few seconds the crowds would be calling for Yeshua, then they would crucify Barabbas. “God, if you’re out there, I’m not asking you to get me out of this. Just….Oh what’s the use!” He hung his head and waited for the verdict. “How could I expect God to let this innocent man die in my place? Such a thing would be unthinkable.” What kind of God would let a completely innocent man shed his blood in the place of a clearly evil man? What kind of God would allow such a ridiculous turnaround of justice?

Then the chanting started…

Hours later, Barabbas sat on a lonely boulder staring at three crosses in the distance. All he could do was let it all wash over him. Was he a lucky fool in a display of religious stupidity, or had God just done the unthinkable? Was it dumb luck or something more? Had he merely escaped death or had something more profound just taken place?

Was Yeshua a poor idealist, or did he look like a king for a reason? “If he was a king, I’d sure like to live in his country. He would be a king worth following.” Barabbas snickered at himself for such silly thoughts, got up from the rock and started walking, not sure where road would take him.  He simply knew his life would be a bit different now, though he wasn’t sure how.

Promises are easier kept around the table.

Mark 14:66-72

“And he broke down and wept.” v. 72 

Promises are easier kept around the table than before the fire. The one Yeshua had named the rock, now lay in pieces in an alley outside the courtyard. The accusing roosters scream tore into his inner ear with unrelenting mockery. There’s a kind of weeping that is so deep that it makes your whole body convulse until you vomit up burning grief from deep places you had no idea existed. Peter was discovering depths of sadness that tore his soul to shreds.

“I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me…” He had said. “One who dips his bread with me…” 

Writhing on the ground Peter felt like a serpent impaled with a spear. All he could do was relive those horrible moments.

He had been standing by the fire warming himself, not sure if he should fight or run. He knew for sure he would be arrested for assaulting that servant, so he considered going into hiding. But he was unable to move. Suspended helplessly between his concern for Jesus, and his instinct to avoid further trouble, he warmed his hands while his synapses raced for a plan. Then she approached.

She didn’t bring any accusations, just a simple statement. Why does it seem our greatest temptations come wrapped in plain brown paper, almost unnoticeable until too late? She casually mentioned, “You were with that Nazarene.”

Fearful that she would point him out as the one who assaulted the servant, he tried to protect his cover,

“No, sorry, you’ve got the wrong guy lady.”     

The Rooster crowed.

Peter reasoned to himself, “I wasn’t denying him, just my association, in case they’re looking for me.”

Not only does temptation come in plain brown paper, it finds an opening and keeps coming.

Enter the servant girl again, only this time she told all the bystanders.

“Hey this is one of the disciples of that Nazarene.”

Fearing this time they would surely report him, he denied it.

“I’m not denying him, just my association with him. I can tell them later after all this blows over.” He assured himself.      

Then another chimed in, “Hey I can tell by your accent, you’re a Galilean. I know you’re one of them!”  Temptation also plays hard on your fears, and Peter was fearful of more trouble.

“_______it! I don’t know this Nazarene you’re talking about.” He shouted.

Almost immediately the rooster cut through the night with a menacing indictment. At this all his rationalizing and reasoning fell into a million scathing pieces. Peter ran into the night, oblivious to the laughing crowd behind him.

The sound of his master’s warning couldn’t be drowned out by his convulsing heart.

“Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” Yeshua had said.

Promises are easier kept around the table than before the fire.

Satan delivered a package in brown paper and Peter received it first class.  What do you do when the promise you gave the Lord at the table, fails the test of fire?

Through the torrents of emotion Peter could only think of his dear friend, betrayed by those he had given so much to. Flashes of memory cascaded into his consciousness compounding his grief.

Every word Yeshua had spoken, every deed he had done hovered over Peter with a crushing heaviness. Glimpses of walking on water, passing out bread, and opening blind eyes hammered  him with unstoppable force.

Peter spent hours sitting in the corner of his home, arms folded around legs, rocking back and forth. “He gave me a life, and I gave him death. Oh God have mercy. His blood is on my head.”

But somewhere in the night something clicked. “Yeshua knew this would happen. He warned me. He wasn’t surprised. He knew I would falter. But he didn’t send me away.”    

That thought seemed to give him some hope, although he didn’t know why.

He knows that much of what we say at the table doesn’t make it past the door of the upper room, much less to the fire of trial. Yet he still calls us to be with him.   That’s the gospel.