(This is the 2nd of 40 daily devotional posts based on my pursuit of a deeper understanding and appreciation of the work at the cross of Jesus Christ. I’d love for you to journey with me on a daily basis for the next 40 days.)
Ever been in a situation where you’ve said something or things, only to find that you can’t recovery what you’ve said, and unfortunately find yourself vulnerable to ridicule, utter awkwardness, hypocritical contradiction or even complete fallibility?
Well I definitely have – whether it’s ignorant cultural insensitiveness, or complete joke failure, I’d be up there in the foot-in-mouth charts.
One thing though that I am learning more and more is to be a man of my word. Oh, the heart is deceiving with all of it’s good intentions, but it’s like Saint Bernard of Clairvaux once coined “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.
Now I’ve always found that statement kind of strong – especially from a French Cistercerian monk. So let’s prod a bit further in this statement – especially in light of the work of the cross.
Peter, Peter, Sandal Eater
Ah good old Simon Peter the apostle, arguably (although I think the apostle John might disagree) the closest of the disciples to Jesus. In one breath he will be like:
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. (Matthew 16 ESV)
And in the next breath he would react like:
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16 NIV)
In one breath “blessed, in another breath “Satan”? Nice one Simon Peter…
Peter upon hearing Jesus from time to time talk about his impending death, would react to Jesus with less thought as to what was being said, and more of a monologue of good intentions which would evidently fall flat. The most obvious example of Simon Peter’s zealous mouth (he was zealous with his actions as well, cutting off a Roman guards ear) would be one on the road towards Christs crucifixion:
31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same…
69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26 NIV)
Before you run your mouth
I think it’s easy for us to bark on these 12 disciples of Christ. Simon Peter and his mouth which runs ahead of schedule, Thomas doubting the risen Christ, John referring to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. And what of Bartholomew? Exactly… What did he do?
But immediately I can identify with all of these disciples: Thomas – yes I’ve doubted too. John – although I’ve probably not referred to myself in the third person like he and the Rock, I know I’ve thought more overconfidently of myself than I ought like Romans 12:3. Bartholomew? Not sure what to identify with, because I don’t know what he was like or what he did.
It’s Simon Peter I find myself relating to the most though. Over zealous with his words only to find his sandal in it. Hoping for things so far beyond his reach that in his heart of good intentions his promises were beyond the intention of God for his life.
In short, at his most vulnerable being exposed as denying Jesus just prior to the crucifixion, that would expose his heart to the message of the Gospel of Christ. Good intentions get you nowhere.
Jesus found Peter fishing and called him to be a disciple. Jesus upon his resurrection would find Peter fishing again, yet even after all still call him to be a disciple making disciple (John 21).
Peter would then go on to be the instrument that God would use in Acts 2 to lead 3000 people to Christ in one day at the preaching of the Gospel from the minor prophet Joel’s oracle by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
Good intentions got Peter nowhere. A GOOD GOD through His LOVING and FORGIVING SON and the EMPOWERMENT of the HOLY SPIRIT took Peter into his world changing destiny, and into the arms of a restoring Heavenly Father.
Reflection Question: Have you ever made promise cheques with your mouth that your walk cannot cash? How do we show our thankfulness for God’s forgiveness when we’ve failed to maintain our word?
Here’s one of my favourite songs with that in mind – All Sons and Daughters “Brokenness Aside”
Check out these lyrics from the second verse and chorus
Will you call me child
When I tell you lies
Cause all I know
Is how to cry
I am a sinner
If its not one thing its another
Caught up in words
Tangled in lies
You are the Savior
And you take brokenness aside
And make it beautiful