Jesus & "mulligans"
I’m really glad golf courses are essential business! I was able to go play nine holes with my family a couple of evenings last week. I haven’t played a lot in the past several years and have really enjoyed hanging out with my sons, getting some much needed exercise and having some fun! We aren’t playing really well, so we have been generous with the mulligans… mulligans are those second chance shots! Golfers who aren’t really good definitely need a mulligan (or 2…) from time to time.
Thank God for the mulligans He graciously offers us in life! The Lord knows how badly we need them because even the best of us blow it from time to time. One of Jesus’ closest disciples blew it too - On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus told His good friend Peter that he would disown Him three times, despite the fact that Peter told Jesus that he “would lay down his life for Him.” (John 13:36:38)
Do you think you would “disown” or “deny” Jesus? If you are a committed Christ-follower, you would probably say, “no way!” But How might we “deny” Jesus?
Playing it safe!…. keeping my relationship with Christ to myself.
Keeping Jesus in a box…compartmentalizing Him, except when it works for me.
Stiff-arming Jesus… keeping Jesus at arms length so that He doesn’t get in my way.
Turning to Jesus only when desperate… turning to Him when I really need or want something from Him.
We don’t mean to or want to, but even the best of us are at risk of failing or “disowning” Jesus! Peter actually did exactly what Jesus said he would; Peter denied he even knew Jesus three times, before the rooster crowed. Then he wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:69-74). I think Peter responded the same way any of us would when we realize we have “denied” Christ. We get down, depressed, disgusted and disappointed in ourselves.
Peter was really counting the costs of following Jesus that night. Clearly he was realizing the implications of following Jesus; and was faced with the reality of Jesus’ words earlier that same night, “would you really lay down your life for me?”
Following Jesus is not easy and the costs may be high, but it is so worth it! What might it look like for me to fully follow Jesus? Fully following Him may mean...
Being honest with a friend who is pulling me away from Christ…
Investing in that same friend to lead them to fully commit to Christ…
Sacrificing some of my free time to invest in my children’s discipleship or to attend a life group or to make Sunday worship a priority…
Spending less time pouring into my vocation and more time into relationships that matter far more - my marriage, my family, my church family, my relationship with Christ….
Looking for open doors to share my faith with someone who is lost and far from God…
Taking the time to serve someone to make an impression and leave a mark for Jesus Christ…
Giving in the way God’s Word instructs…
So how about you?… Will you commit fully to follow Christ, no matter the cost?… To own your faith in Christ, not to “disown” Him?
Peter denied he knew Jesus, not once but 3 times, then the rooster crowed. What happened next? Peter’s heart was broken. But he would see Jesus again following Jesus’ resurrection and Jesus would graciously give Him a second chance! When we fail, Jesus graciously offers us forgiveness and a second chance! (John 21:15-19)
Why did Jesus ask Peter three times if He loved Him? It may have been because Peter had denied Him three times. He wanted to give Peter a chance to affirm His love for Him. He wanted Peter to know that He was forgiven and that that He would be given a second chance! Jesus had not given up on Peter and He will never give up on you! But to be clear, Jesus does have expectations of His followers. Jesus is looking for unqualified, complete commitment from you!
When we read this conversation between Jesus and Peter in English, we miss something that is very important in the original language. Jesus uses a word for love that represents a complete commitment. The word that Peter uses for love implies something less than total commitment. For us, it might be like asking, “Do you love me?” Then hearing, “I care deeply for you.” There is something missing there!
Why would Peter not fully commit? It could have been because he had been so bold in the past, saying he would lay down his life for Jesus, but when push came to shove, he knew he had failed. He was plagued by that failure, so he didn’t want to “overcommit.” Peter desperately wanted to tell Jesus how much He loved Him, but he feared he would let Him down again.
Do you ever feel like that? What if I let Jesus down… again? Some people let their fear of failure hold them back from fully committing to Christ’s leadership. But Jesus wants our full commitment…. Jesus wanted Peter’s full commitment, full love, full devotion. Jesus didn’t want Peter to love anything else in his life more than he loved Him, including His job (fishing).
Is there anything that might be coming between you and Jesus? Anything that is causing you to qualify your love, your commitment to Christ as Lord and Leader of your life?
Jesus had big plans for Peter! And He has big plans for you! For far more, please click here to listen to Perfect Love - Part 4 - Defined.