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Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The Cross of Compassion
One of the saddest stories in the bible is the story of Peter and his denial of Jesus. If you are not familiar with it read Luke 22:31-65. It is the story of one of Jesus’ closest disciples, a leader among the twelve and one who he had such high hopes for, letting him down in the time of his greatest need.
One of the great portrayals of this biblical scene between Jesus and Peter comes from the recent cinema blockbuster, The Passion. In this scene the actor portraying Peter does a good job of depicting what I could only imagine was going on in Peter’s head. Peter had followed Jesus for years now, devoting his life, his time, his treasure to this man. Yet at the time when Jesus most needed him, the time when he was arrested, going to be tried and punished even though innocent, the disciple that seemed most likely to stand in a crowd and defend his master, slinked away in fear. In the Passion, you see Peter finds Jesus’ eyes after he had denied him and the pain of understanding his betrayal, the betrayal of his lord, was too much for him to handle.
The amazing part of this story is that when Jesus rose from the dead, He looked into those same eyes of his disciple Peter, and with love accepted him, and forgave him. Peter went on to be one of the most influential messengers for Jesus, and he even gave his life for his lord. The coward turned into a courageous soul.
This is not the only betrayal of Jesus told in the gospel stories. There was another disciple whose betrayal is central to the story of Jesus’ Passion. It is the story of Judas Iscariot. Judas, a disciple that had been with Jesus for almost as long as Peter, also betrayed Jesus. Judas misunderstood Jesus’ purpose on earth. He thought that Jesus was an “earthly king” that would raise a military and strike down Israel’s enemies. He didn’t realize that Jesus was much more; he was sent to strike down the consequences of the world’s sin. Judas acted to try to get Jesus to act, selling Jesus out to those who wanted to harm him.
Judas’ story doesn’t end as nicely as Peter’s. Judas, racked with guilt for what he had done to his Lord, killed himself, and died in anguish. It didn’t have to be that way. You see, the same forgiveness that Peter received from Jesus, Judas could have received as well. Yet, Judas did not allow himself to see the compassion of the cross.
This Easter season allow for God to show you the compassion of the cross. Jesus, died for each of us, and to give each of us forgiveness, no matter what we have done in life. We can all say we have in some way let God down, or maybe never paid much attention to him. But he wants us to know that he loves us and his arms are open, and full of compassion. Will your life end like Peter or Judas?
posted by Ben Thomas @ 1:42 AM  
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