Monday, February 13, 2006

Strike three . . . you're out . . . but you're not done

I love the month of February. Most people don’t because it is right smack dab in the middle of winter. Most people wish it away so that they can begin to think “spring.” Not me. I love February. And this year February is even better because of the Olympics. But my main reason for loving February is that this is the month that pitchers and catchers, followed by the rest of Major League baseball players, report to Spring Training in Florida and Arizona. I love baseball and when bats start swinging I get excited.

In the game of baseball, each at bat has a limit of three strikes or four balls. You never get an extra strike. No umpire will ever say, “Strike three…but wait…I’ll give you a fourth strike…step back up to the plate.” But as we continue our study from Mark 14-16 called, “Experience the Passion,” that is exactly what happens to Peter. In scene one, found in verses 27-31 of Mark 14, Jesus and the eleven disciples (all 12 except Judas) are walking from Jerusalem following the Last Supper to the Garden of Gethsemane. As they walk, Jesus predicts that all of them would “fall away.” This was actually a prophecy seen in Zechariah 13:7. Peter immediately protests saying that even if the others did fall away that he would stay strong even to death. Jesus’ general prediction regarding all eleven disciples now narrows to just Peter. Jesus predicts that on that very night, before the rooster crowed twice, Peter would deny His Lord not once, not even twice, but on three separate occasions. Peter continues to protest such an outlandish claim and the other tem disciples join him in making similar claims.

Now scene two, seen in Mark 14:66-68, shifts to after the arrest of Jesus while Christ was on trial in front of the Jewish Sanhedrin. Peter followed the arrested Jesus from a distance and was seated by the fire in the courtyard of the High Priest. A servant girl saw him and said, “You were also with Jesus the Nazarene.” Peter denied the claim saying that he didn’t even know Jesus. This was strike one.

Peter than went out on to the porch where the servant girl followed him. She begins to tell other bystanders that he was one of Jesus’ followers. Again Peter continually denies claim. This is strike two. About an hour later (according to Luke’s account) another bystander says to Peter that he must be one of Jesus’ followers due to his Galilean accent (all of the disciples except Judas were Galileans). This led to a third and very emotional denial of Jesus. For Peter, this was strike three. By baseball standards, he was out.

This is not the case when God is involved. Yes, Peter had failed. Yes, Peter denied his Lord three times. But no, Peter was not done. God still had a wonderful place for Peter in advancing the Kingdom of God. In the very near future Peter would be the one on the Day of Pentecost to preach a powerful sermon to thousands upon thousands which would result in 3,000 people coming to faith in Jesus Christ. Maybe you have failed your Lord. Maybe you have done so more than once. You may feel like you have struck out. Do not underestimate the grace of God. You may feel like you have struck out spiritually, but you’re not done! He still has a purpose for you!

No comments: