Praying in the Park
Week of April 4, 2010
I went walking around Reiter Park in Longwood this morning. I was praying for CCC and our Easter Celebration. I was praying for our Magic Easter Egg Hunt. I was praying for the team that would be serving and ministering to the Central Florida community and the thousands that will be there. I was praying about the amazing chance we get to throw this kind of party for the community each year. I was praying about the blessing it is to be a part of a place like CCC. The park was quiet with the exception of the “thunk-thunk” of a couple of older gentlemen playing tennis. And I was praying about Easter.
I love Easter. Easter is the moment where everything changes. Time changes, eternity changes, destiny changes, and each of us have the chance to change as well. I tend to take a journey around Easter time in my devotional life. Like many people I revisit the last moments of Jesus on earth. I try to find myself in the Upper Room, I try to be a part of the group in the garden, I move through the trials, I walk up Golgotha, I look at the cross, and I wander around the occupied tomb, and then take a look inside the empty one.
I must admit it is usually an emotional time as I come face to face with how much He loves us. I am also am amazed at how I, in spite of that deep love, so often mess up and don’t live life like I was created to live it. Do you ever feel that way or am I alone here?
I was thinking about that this week and wondered if did Peter felt a twinge of guilt every time he heard a rooster crow?
There is a poignant scene right after Peter denied Christ. A rooster crows. And Luke 22:61 says, “At that moment, the Lord turned and looked at Peter.” I don’t think it was a vindictive look. I think it was one of the lock eyed moments when Jesus focused in at the same time Peter did. I think Jesus wanted to establish eye contact to maintain relationship with Peter, but Peter went out and “wept bitterly.”
You know how certain sights or sounds or smells can trigger a memory? I’ve got to think that every time Peter heard a rooster crow he winced. It was a daily reminder of his failure. He was haunted by three denials.
Peter gets a bum rap.
He is forever remembered as the disciple who denied Christ three times, but we forget the fact that he is the only one who got close enough to get caught.
Peter is the disciple who sinks in the Sea of Galilee, but he is also the only disciple who walks on water!
And Peter is the disciple who impulsively cut off Malchus’ ear when the religious leaders come to arrest Jesus. But I don’t see any of the other disciples coming to Jesus’ defense do you?
All four gospels tell the story of Peter cutting off the right ear of Malchus, a servant of the high priest. Luke 22:51 says that Jesus “touched the man’s ear and healed him.”
Let me state the obvious: you don’t cut off someone’s ear and get by with it, especially if that someone is the High Priest’s servant. Worst case scenario: Peter gets charged with attempted murder. Best case scenario: Peter gets charged with assault and battery with a deadly weapon.
We tend to overlook this subplot, but Peter is in a world of trouble!
Then Jesus intervenes.
Somehow he reverses the irreversible. He reattaches the amputated ear. But he does more than heal this man’s ear. How can you get in trouble for doing something that isn’t really done? I mean can you be guilty of cutting off an ear when the ear is still attached?
Stop and think about it.
Malchus files a civil suit against Peter and takes the witness stand. He says, “Peter cut off my ear.” The Judge says, “Which ear?” Malchus says, “My right one.” The Judge says, “It looks fine to me.” And the case gets thrown out of court for lack of evidence!
This isn’t just a story about Jesus and Peter and Malchus. It’s a picture of what Christ accomplished on the cross. He destroyed the evidence against us. It’s like the Accuser of the Brethren brings charges against us, but the Judge says, “The evidence has been destroyed.” And the charges are dropped.
I am probably more like Peter than I want to admit. I goof up a lot! But I also am in the game and I am gonna keep on trying. I hope my mistakes are mistakes on the way of trying to get it right. And in spite of my mistakes, in spite of my missteps, an in spite of my just not doing it right…Jesus has destroyed the evidence!
I will keep on trying because He keeps on loving me! He loves you too.
Easter is something to celebrate because the evidence is destroyed, you are free, and now you can really live! I was thinking about that praying in the park this week.
Add your thoughts to these thoughts.
e-mail Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org