Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grace...Truly Amazing Grace!

God's Grace is God's unmerited favor, love, kindness, and forgiveness.  There is nothing we can do to gain His Grace in our lives.  It truly is a gift, because when we least deserve it, God pours it out to us.

Peter was a recipient of God's amazing Grace.  On the night Jesus Christ was arrested, three times Peter denied knowing The Son of God.  After Jesus looked him in the eyes, Peter ran and "wept bitterly".  He didn't just weep silently for a moment, a man-kind of cry.  He wailed, openly and violently, and probably for quite some time.  He was in agony over the fact that he had just denied The Christ, when he never thought he could ever do such a thing.  Peter was full of guilt and shame. His pride was broken. Those bitter tears were wails of repentance. But, I'm sure Peter didn't let himself off the hook too easily.  He wasn't ready to forgive himself. Somehow or another, wallowing made him feel a little better, because he deserved no more than that.

In the days that followed, a dejected Peter went back to his old way of life of that of a fisherman.  Trying to forget the last three-and-a-half years of his life - as one discipled by the Master, Himself - Peter tried to put all that behind him because now he only saw himself as a failure when it came to Jesus.  He went back to the only thing he felt worthy to do - fishing. The realization of his failures changed him.  He no longer saw himself as a faith-filled Follower of Christ; as the one who would die for Him.  He was guilt-ridden and full of self-loathing.   I'm sure Peter had thought, "If only I could have one more chance..."

Meanwhile, Jesus appears to the women and tells them to tell the others, and Peter, that they will see Him. He named Peter specifically because Jesus knew Peter's suffering - of his self-loathing, of the other disciples' gossip, and the condemnation that Satan was bringing - could only be healed by a face-to-face encounter with God's Grace.

Jesus appears on the beach.  When told of it, Peter dives off his fishing boat and swims to the shore where he finds Jesus sitting by a fire.  By a fire, Peter had denied the Son of God.  Now here again, by a fire, The Son of God reaches out to him. For the three times Peter denied knowing Jesus, Jesus asks him if he loves Him.  Three times Peter answers the question with his declaration of love.  His three-time-declaration-moment replaced his three-time-denial-moment.  God's favor, love, kindness, and forgiveness hit Peter right in his heart.  Healing and freedom from guilt and condemnation came as he declared his heart.  In that moment, Peter's soul experienced The Resurrection and The Life.  Jesus was giving him a second chance.

That is what Grace is all about - second chances.  Peter went from a loathsome denier to a hero of an apostle, who was a powerful, anointed preacher of God's Word, author of two Epistles, and one through whom many miracles were wrought.  Grace allowed him to forgive himself, hold his head up high, and continue to walk in God's calling.

Hallelujah for God's amazing Grace!  It's a life-changer, in the most positive sense. I know. I've been a recipient, as well.  Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

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