The Burden of Guilt
As Christians, we feel the burden of our sin and our guilt. And sometimes, if we're honest, we feel and act a lot like Adam and Eve in the garden. We want to hide from God. We don't want to pray. We don't want to read his word. We feel distant, and sin does create that distance.
But we have to remember that Jesus actually came into the world to bring those who are alienated to God. He brings us to God. And that's not only the case for those who are outside of Christ—that he saves us—but also those who are in Christ, his people. He continues with us. He's not going to cast us off. I like to say that when Jesus purchased us, he knew what he was purchasing. He didn't keep the receipt like he's going to return us if we're not good. He knew exactly who we were.
Peter’s Sin and Redemption
One of the stories that illustrates this is the story of the apostle Peter. We love Peter for his zeal, his boldness. And sometimes that gets him in trouble. As we know, shortly before Jesus's death and crucifixion, you have this conversation with Jesus and Peter and the disciples, and Jesus tells him he's going to betray him. Peter is confident, saying, No way! And even Jesus says that he's praying for Peter after he sins, that he would return and strengthen his brethren. And Peter is even resistant to that.
He's like, You don't need to pray for me. I got this. I'm fine. But then, of course, we know what ends up happening. On the night of his crucifixion, we find Jesus alone. His disciples run and Peter is following at a distance. And he's outside the courtyard watching and even fearing this young teenage girl who's interrogating him saying, Oh, surely you're one of Jesus's men.
And he says he doesn't know him. So he denies him three times. And Luke captures in his Gospel that scene where, as he's denying him, he locks eyes with Peter and sees him. And to speculate, what kind of look was that? How did he see him? Charles Spurgeon says that look is a heart-piercing and heart-healing look. That in one instance, Jesus looks at Peter, and Peter locks eyes with him, and he sees the blackness of his sin and the beauty of Christ's mercy. And in Peter weeping over his sin, but no doubt also of the mercy.
And then you fast forward to the cross and the resurrection. When Jesus was raised from the dead in Mark 16:7, he says, Go and tell my disciples and Peter. Go tell Peter: that one who denied me. He sends them to Peter. And so they go and get the disciples and they bring them back to Jesus.
We have to remember that Jesus actually came into the world to bring those who are alienated to God. He brings us to God.
And they have this meeting in John 21 where Jesus is sitting with Peter on the shoreline having breakfast. And three times Jesus asks him if he loves him, and Peter answers in the affirmative three times—no doubt comparing it to parallel with Peter's three denials. And Jesus tells him he has work for him to do, and he enlists him in service.
So, not only does our sin not separate us ultimately from God as Christians—Christ has paid for that sin—but we see that Christ is ready to receive his people as they confess their sin to them. And it doesn't put us on the sidelines for the rest of our lives. He forgives us and he puts us back in the game to serve him, just like Peter.
He's not ashamed of us or our sin because he died for our sin. And if Jesus was ashamed of his people who sin, he wouldn't have any people—for we all sin. Isn't it good to see Christ in his continuing love for his people?
Erik Raymond is the author of He Is Not Ashamed: The Staggering Love of Christ for His People.
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