It’s dawn. Good Friday. I am in my own little corner of the world, facing east. Horizontal swath of peachy-orange hangs at the horizon over Lake Michigan, just visible from my perch. Across the road on another farm . . . .
The rooster crows like that every morning at dawn. And he reminds me . . .
He reminds me of my fickle, fearful heart. He reminds me that, when push comes to shove, I shove myself right away from His presence. The sudden emotional reflex shocks me—saddens me—and still, I do it . . . .
I deny Him me—all of—me. He who gave all of Himself for me.
My heart breaks with Peter’s this dawning day as I remember standing in the courtyard of Caiaphas where Peter stood at a distance, waiting all night—scared stiff on the one hand—heart breaking on the other. He knew. He knew what Jesus had said—how Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed at dawn.
How does He know such intimate details of the human heart? He knows because He is the Son of God.
How often I forget how much He knows—all the ugly stuff He knows. The stuff I try to stuff and forget because it’s—just—too—painful—to see and admit and deal with.
And I think I know my heart better than He.
Right before Gethsemane, Jesus told his disciples they would all fall away. Peter was adamant.
“Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
And then Jesus looked straight at him and told him not once, but three times, Peter would disown Him that night—before the rooster crowed.
Even then, Peter proclaimed his love and faithfulness.
“Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”
And all the other disciples said the same.
That’s what I say. Until He asks me to forgive when I don’t want to—to stay silent when someone lashes out at me—to do the right thing when everyone around is doing the wrong thing. That’s when my resolve weakens. That’s when I protect my own hide rather than lean into the One who gave His. That’s when my pride refuses to be nailed to that cross. I follow just so far. Just like Peter.
And the one Jesus named “The Rock”? Peter? He crumbled when questioned in the courtyard. Right where I stood.
“I don’t know the man!” Peter swore. Three times. The number of completion. Jesus—the one Peter swore he would never disown—three times—completely disowned. Then the rooster crowed.
Jesus was right about him.
Jesus is right about us all.
He knows we are made of dust.
He knows we are weak and helpless despite our belief in our strength and determination.
There it is in the east! The sun! It has risen straight in front of me–this fireball–light of the world–pushing itself out of the lake and lifting itself up for all to see, birthing a new day.
No human betrayal, no human denial, no human disowning will ever stop the Son from rising—from birthing life eternal.
He rose on the cross today, Good Friday.
And He hung there for six hours, nailed straight through, looking upon all. For all the betrayals. For all the denials. For all the disowning. For all the tongue lashings. For all the blood baths. For all the fears. For all the tears. For all. For all time.
He hung there till His work was done. And He could have come down and said we aren’t worth the agony.
But he didn’t. He stayed with us who nailed Him there. What little breath He had left He used to say,
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they’re doing.”
At the very moment He said, “It is finished!”—at the very moment He committed His spirit to the Father . . . .
The lamb was slain in the temple.
The sacrificial lamb that atoned for the sins of the people was slain as it was every day at three o’clock.
And the shofar sounded. The ram’s horn blew loud and rang through the streets announcing the sacrifice was finished. JUST WHEN JESUS WAS FINISHED. The Lamb that took away the sin of the world had died. And the temple curtain tore in two at that moment. Jesus was torn apart to tear apart all that separates us from our Holy God.
But we still aren’t. Not yet.
He knows all my weaknesses—all my sin—all my heart.
The seemingly good intentions, the bad intentions, the fearful, the wounded, the wounding, the deepest darkest ugly. He knows what I don’t even know. And He knew it before He came to this earth—before He dragged Himself carrying His own cross—before He died the most torturous death of all time. He knew.
And He still knows. And He would do it all again. Just for me. Just for you. Because He hates sin that much. Because He loves us that much.
Can I fathom such great love?
Can I look straight into the Son’s face and say thank you? Can I give Him my all–all of me?
I’m looking east right now and the sun intensifies as it rises higher. I can’t look straight into its face. It hurts my human eyes. So I lower my head just a bit and close my eyes and feel the warmth on my face. Even through this closed glass window, the sun reaches for me. And I give thanks.
Oh Jesus, how I would love to say I’ll never deny you. But You know I will. And my heart breaks. You know. How can I ever thank You enough for today—for Your agony, your sacrifice—except to offer myself wholly to You as a living sacrifice—and allow You to take me back to Eden—to take me back into your arms after I’ve denied you—denied you all of me—over and over and over.
Thank you, O my God, for loving me so completely—over and over and over—melting away all my guilt and shame. And one day—one glorious day—You will lift my lowered face and raise my veil with your beautiful nail-scarred hands. And I will look straight in Your eyes—Your bride for whom You died.