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Showing Loyalty

Lower taxes, cheaper gas prices, more investment in schools and education, better transport systems, higher pensions, stricter measures on crime, cleaner environment, more jobs…..
We have heard it all before, haven’t we? The words trotted out by those running for elected office, whether President of the United States or some county, city, state or federal office, words trotted out by politicians every four years or so as we brace ourselves for another election.  It’s not that the politicians set out to deceive us (well, not most of them, anyway); rather that, swept along on the tide of the moment, they find that when it comes to it, they just cannot deliver – their beautiful words exposed as all talk.

So it was for Peter in the moments leading up to the cross. Peter said, ‘Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “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. Even though all become deserters, I will not.”  Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this day, this very night before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.”  But he said vehemently, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And all of them said the same. (John 13:36-37; Mark 14:29-31). Rash, impulsive words, no doubt, but he meant every word and fully believed he could meet such promises. Of course, events would prove him wrong. So what is the message for us today? That we, like Peter, are false and faithless? That we are often prone to empty rhetoric? Both I suspect are probably true. The key detail though is that Jesus knew full well that Peter would fail him that his words were all talk, yet Jesus still loved him, loved him enough to continue to the cross, enough to have chosen him as the rock of his Church. That’s the wonder of this incident: that far from wanting him to punish himself afterward for his failure, Jesus wanted Peter to know that he knew his weakness, understood he would fail,  and yet still loved him. Here is the awesome message of the gospel – the message that gives hope to us all.

Are you punishing yourself for past mistakes, burdened by a sense of guilt at your weakness and failures? Have you understood that Christ died for you as you are? Here are words of the Apostle Paul that you should thoroughly trust and accept: ‘that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life (1 Timothy 1:15-16).
Perhaps this can be your prayer this week?

Lord Jesus Christ, by your grace, help me to not just talk about loyalty but to show it, as you have shown it to me. Amen
Have a blessed Easter, Shalom to you my friend,

Pastor Andrew

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