Denial, Acceptance, and Radical Grace

by Jared Sparks November 19, 2015

I'm sure you are quite familiar with the feeling of guilt. You promised God that you wouldn't do________ again and then...... yup, you lied to God again.

In that moment of shame, what do you feel? Do you feel as if you can run to Jesus and be fully accepted? Or do you feel like there is a barrier between you and God?

Moments like these reveal to us what we really believe the Gospel is. So don't waste these shameful moments. By grace, let's learn and grow from them.

As an example let's take a look at Peter and Jesus. Peter is a funny character. Is this scene in John we see a Peter that is so confident in his own abilities. This is before his "shame" moment.  Listen to his words to Jesus in Jn 13:36-38:

"Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered him, "Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward." Peter said to him. "Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I way to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times."

Do you hear the boldness of Peter? It was almost as if he was trying to impress Jesus with how "sold out" he was. We are often like this, as well. Inside I know "I am way more committed than all these other shmucks." But what does Jesus do? Does he just let Peter keep talking? Nope. Jesus lets Peter know what is really in his heart. Jesus knew the weakness and sin better than Peter knew himself.

And it happened. Peter denies Jesus. I mean, denies him. Can you imagine the pain of a best friend's denial? Wouldn't that be awful? If that happened to you, would it put a barrier between you and your friend? Well, of course! It would be sin. This is what Peter did. He sinned against Jesus.

So what does Jesus do? The unthinkable. Instead of Peter dying for Jesus, in love, Jesus would die for Peter. Jesus would take what Peter deserved. Peter is the coward, the inconsistent follower, the one who would not take up his cross and follow Jesus;  he is the sinner, the rebel, the denier of Jesus, and yet -- Jesus lays down his life for Peter.

Imagine the shame that must have come upon Peter. In Luke 22:62 we see that he "went out and wept bitterly.”  So what would happen with this scoundrel? Would he beat himself up? Would he forever run from God? What would Peter do if he were to see Jesus again? Well, Peter would see Jesus again, and it will give us insight to the transforming power of the grace of Jesus.

Peter was fishing. Some dude came along walking on the shore. He told the boys to throw their net on the other side of the boat to catch some fish. This should have rung a bell. They followed this man’s instructions and, what do you know? Fish. Peter didn't even realize that this was Jesus. John had to tell Peter "It is the Lord!" So here is the moment. The last time Peter saw Jesus, he denied him. Would Peter hide? Would Jesus be approachable? Would Jesus accept him? Maybe Jesus would accept Peter if Peter would prove to Jesus that the whole denying nonsense was a thing of the past. None of that:

Jn 21:7-8 "When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work. and threw himself into the sea."

Peter could not get to Jesus fast enough. Apparently the other disciples could contain themselves, but not Peter. Peter knew Jesus would accept him. Peter did not shy away, or hide, rather he had to be with Jesus.

Isn't that interesting? Is this how we are when we sin? Do we have confidence in our savior Jesus? Are we secure in the fact that Jesus will have us? Do we believe the truth that Jesus died in our place for all my denial, small faith, faithlessness, rebellion, and sin of all sorts? Jesus died the death we deserved to die. So we can come to Him. We can rest in him. When you know Jesus died for you, there is freedom to come to him even in your worst moment. You don't have to run. You don't have to hide. You are forgiven and free. Because of Jesus, the Father is pleased with you.

For a final word, look at Jn 21:15-19. Jesus takes Peter on a little walk. As he had before Jesus gives Peter a sneak peek into his own future. This time, it would not be of Peter's denial, but of his death. Peter would indeed die for Jesus.

Brothers and sisters, once you are secure in who's death counts, you will then be free to die for Jesus. This is the power of Grace!

Oh and by the way: It was Peter who God chose to preach at Pentecost. It was Peter who preached about Jesus and saw 3000 people converted. So drink it up! Drink up the grace of God and be changed now and forever.