Have you ever experienced the pain that comes with the betrayal of a friend? It’s one thing when acquaintances of people you are not overly close to betray a confidence, or do or say something hurtful to you.
However, when someone you consider to be a friend does something that appears to be calculated and uncaring, it is often difficult to cope with and even understand.
Our Lord obviously knows and understands what it means to suffer betrayal. Not only did Judas betray Him by turning his master over to the authorities, but the bulk of the disciples abandoned Him as well during His trial and crucifixion. Of course, the one whose betrayal is most often remembered is Peter.
Jesus had told him that he would deny his Lord three times. Although Peter denied that this would never happen, he was soon reminded of how frail his faith was in a moment of crisis. Are we any different?
It seems that there are times in my life when I am not as quick to assert my love for the Savior of my soul as I should be. Perhaps it is all too easy for many of us to succumb to the pressure of the opinions and critiques of others, rather than to remain true to what we believe.
While this failure to remain faithful could mean the end or even the collapse of our relationship with our Lord, it does not. In one of the most poignant and powerful narratives in the Gospels, we are given a glimpse into the healing power of forgiveness that our Lord offers to His children.
Peter and his fellow disciples are fishing on the Sea of Galilee. After a long night where they have caught nothing, they see a man on the shore calling out to them. “Children, you do not have any fish do you?”
They have only one answer, “No.”
“Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch,” this man tells them.
So great was their catch that they could not even haul it into the boat. John realizes that it is Jesus who has been speaking to them. When Peter hears this, he jumps into the water and swims toward the shore, while the rest of the disciples are trying to drag this net full of fish to the shore.
Jesus is waiting for them with a fire and invites them to bring some of their catch and join him for breakfast. After their meal, Jesus spends some time with Peter. During their conversation he asks him three times, “Do you love me?”
Each time Peter answers him affirmatively. However, he appears to be growing frustrated with this repetitive line of questioning. He seems to be exasperated by these repeated questions regarding his allegiance to His master.
As I reflect upon this encounter with Jesus, I am reminded of how easily I, like Peter, can allow myself to become distracted by my circumstances and permit fear to be my guide rather than faith.
There are times when our actions and attitudes may not accurately portray the loving relationship that we have with our Savior. In other words, we may live in a manner that might cause those around us to question the quality or even the existence of our faith.
All too often, I fail to live in a manner that fully reflects the One Who is at work in my life. It would be great if I could say that my life is a perfect expression of the life of Christ. However, there are times in all of our lives that we do not live like children of the King.
Obviously, God understands and knows our frailty. He is willing to show us mercy and grace even when we choose to act in a manner that is unworthy of such kindness. He knows that we cannot love Him in our own strength.
Perhaps this is why He makes a way for us to turn back to Him when we fail (1 John 1:9). He loves us in spite of ourselves and because of who He is.
MIKE COOPER / MBC director of church health ministry team