Easter is easily one of my favorite holidays and seasons. I mean, it’s full of cute baby farm animals, bacon’s red-headed step-child (ham), and flowers. Those things alone would make the heart of this sunflower rancher’s daughter burst with girlie joy, even if those were the only wonderful parts of this season… But they’re not.
This season is centered around God and his beautiful recreation of the world: the way that His redemptive power was personified through the death and resurrection of His Son, the unimaginable love that He showed for His people through Christ’s sacrifice, even the way that he continues to use imperfect people to build up a church to serve a Holy King. It all just makes my heart burst with joy!
As I sat and reflected on John 18 this week after Gospel Community, John’s account of Peter’s denial of Jesus in verses 15-27 struck something within me.
Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, ‘You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself. Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, ‘You also are not one of his disciples, are you?’ He denied it and said, ‘I am not.’ One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with him?’ Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.”
Just hours earlier, Jesus had predicted that Peter would deny Him three times before the night was up. And what do ya know; Jesus’ prophecy came true.
Weird, right? It’s like Jesus knew Peter’s deceitful heart ahead of time and still loved Him despite it.
After re-reading John 18, I feel like I can relate to Peter the most out of all of the apostles.
Peter was a go-getter. An absolute hot mess of a go-getter.
I mean, if we look back in the first few verses of chapter 18 of John, Peter cuts off one of the ears of a guard who has come to arrest Jesus. He was well intentioned, but he got a little too excited in trying to defend Jesus and cut off the dude’s ear. (Oops.)
And then there was that time at the Last Supper when Peter told Jesus, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” (Matthew 26:33) Peter was absolutely in love with Jesus. He openly stated that He was willing to go anywhere, even to his death for his King.
Then this whole denying Jesus three times thing happens hours later and I’m left scratching my head thinking, Where the heck did the ever-devoted Peter go? How could he just abandon Jesus like that?
Aaaaaand then I remember who I am.
I am a woman who seeks after God in her own spastic, go-getter fashion. I love Him more than I love everything else in the world combined and I know that I would go to my death for my King.
And yet I am still an anxious, control-freak who tries to play it cool, yet always ends up cutting off someone’s ear (okay, it’s usually my own ear) in a moment of indiscretion.
I have a big mouth and if it’s not closely monitored, my God-given wit can be sharp and biting.
I am a passionate person and when I don’t use my passion for God and good instead of evil, (See look, I make pop culture references sometimes…) I easily fall into the traps of lust.
All of this to say, I am a hot mess, and yet God is using me anyway. Just like He used Peter, and just like I’m sure He is using you.
God has built His church out of screw ups and sinners… Screw ups and sinners whom He loves and is redeeming.
Peter went on to be one of the pillars of the early church and yet there he stood, just hours after His King had been arrested, and essentially spit in His face by denying Him not once, not twice, but three times.
I think that we often fall into the lies of “I’m not good enough to be loved by God” or “There’s no way that God could love me after I have [insert your supposedly unforgivable sin here].”
Yet He does.
He sent His Son to die for us because He is a forgiving Father who constantly redeems our stories.
He forgave and redeemed Peter, one of the people closest to Him on this earth after he denied Him three stinking times.
God continues to forgive and redeem me when I put my foot in my mouth or when I figuratively cut off an ear in my own zealousness.
That truth is what this season is about. Easter isn’t about little chickens, candy, or visiting a creep dressed up in a rabbit costume at the mall.
Easter is about God and indescribable the way that He loves us, even when we spit in His face or trip and fall flat on our own faces after denying Him.
God is seeking to use you.
Will you let Him love you? Will you let Him use you in His Kingdom? Are you willing to let go of your shame and brokenness and let Him guide and redeem you?