Tuesday, April 9, 2013

When mourning turns into dancing? John 21:1-19 Psalm 30?

My one wish for all people is joy in the Lord. Such joy starts with faith--simple confidence in God. Joyfilled believers are living witnesses to God's power to make all things new.
A joyful believer dying of cancer can share hope while dying. God given faith makes it possible. Believers see past suffering and death. Believers don't skip suffering and death--rather in faith Christians their place with God today and for always. Faith is confidence--it is knowing that God's hands are open to receive in the end and that God is with them right now. God given faith gives all the soil needed for joy and hope to sprout and grow.
Christians are free, by faith, to face terror and worry with joy. When hell seems to have broken open on earth believers like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie Ten Boom, and others reveal joy in Christ--even in places as awful as concentration camps. The very nature of faith--of knowing God is with you in all things--makes joy and hope possible.
Please don't be confused: Joy isn't happiness or an absence of trouble. Joy is living with God in all circumstances. Psalm 30 asks God:

What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Psalm 30:9-10 ESV
Jesus' friend Peter may have wondered about Jesus love and concern for him. Think what'd he'd done. The story's clear. Peter promised Jesus he'd go with even to prison and death (Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 14:27—31; Luke 22:31—34; John 13:36—38). Just hours later, Peter denied knowing Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66—72; Luke 22:54—62; John 18:15—18, John18:25—27).
Peter went away and wept bitterly. To put it simply he mourned.

After the resurrection Peter met Jesus again. He had a moment of reckoning coming after Jesus' resurrection. It was a moment when Peter's life was turned from mourning to joy. Jesus came to Peter, who was out fishing. Peter didn't recognize Jesus on shore (John 21:4). Jesus called out to the men in the boat (John 21:5). They hadn't caught anything yet. Jesus said to throw the nets in one more time. Now the nets were nearly bursting. Peter knew it was Jesus recreating the miracle from the first time they'd met--only bigger this time (Matthew 4.18—22; Mark 1.16—20; Luke 5:1-11). Peter jumped in and swam ashore. (John 21:5-7).
On shore Jesus shared breakfast with His friends. Then He took a moment with Peter (John 21:15-19). He lead Peter through mourning into joy asking αγαπας με agapas me: do you love me with a sacrificial life giving love? Peter answered Jesus question saying φιλω σε philo se: I love you brother. Peter didn't answer Jesus question. So Jesus asked again: αγαπας με agapas me: do you love me with a sacrificial life giving love? Peter answered φιλω σε philo se: I love you brother. Peter's guilt and mourning were exposed. Peter hadn't kept his promise to Jesus--and Jesus knew the grief in Peter's heart. Now Jesus asked him a new question: φιλεις μεphiles me: do you love me brother And Now Peter could say yes. Peter knew his shame and mourned it. Jesus met Peter in his grief and reclaimed his as a brother. Peter could tell Jesus φιλω σεphilo se: I love you brother. Jesus changed his mourning to joy.

Peter's denial didn't disqualify him from serving God--Jesus' restored making him worthy. Yes Peter had denied Jesus. Yes every saint turned sinner has a past that involves denying God's transcendent presence in our lives--not much different than Peter denying Jesus is it? The key is Jesus didn't leave Peter.  And He doesn't want us to stay stuck mourning our past. Peter's mourning would turn into joy spreading the gospel. He lived out the words of Psalm 30:8.
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:8 ESV
All saints have pasts--and that's where the Good News breaks in. People of faith, it's wrongly assumed, have no troubles or would be disqualified from serving God if they did have troubles. Such assumptions are equally dangerous and wrong. Every believer struggles. We live with knowledge of how we've let God down. We live with depression, fear, guilt, sin, shame, diseases, and temptations too they are all real--but for the God who raises us to new life our pasts and our struggles are never disqualifying. We like Peter live with the consequences of broken promises and unfulfilled dreams but God doesn't want to leave us in mourning. The God of hope who meets us in the middle of suffering and restores us to new life. The Apostle Paul wrote:
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 ESV
Faith helps us see God's presence with us. Knowing God's presence, even just for a second in dark times, gives us hope and joy in the midst of very real struggles.
thanks be to God for every glimpse of the resurrection and the new life. AMEN
Pax, John

No comments: