by Brittney Chan
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us…”
1 John 4:16
No lie, y’all, this past Sunday was difficult. There I sat in the middle of my class of toddlers trying to teach them about the greatest love ever known to man. And as one kept jumping out of his seat and another one was needing to go to the bathroom, these questions started to run through my head: How am I supposed to put it into words that they’ll understand? How can I simplify a love that has been unfailing, even when I haven’t? How do I quantify the number of times I’ve known compassion, when I deserved condemnation? How do I make them understand the depths of the grace I’ve seen? Can I begin to convince them that this love is worth living for? Where do I even start to bring it down to a 2-5 year-old’s level?
Have you ever tried to fully describe God’s love to someone else? Do you even know it for yourself?
When I think about it, of course, my mind wanders off to Calvary and the events that led up to Jesus’s crucifixion. I always tend to linger a while around one moment in particular; you can find the story in all four gospels. Jesus is speaking to the disciples in some of His final moments with them. He tells of how once He is taken captive that night, they will all, at some point, be offended and scatter. Peter speaks up and says, “Lord, though You say everyone’s going to be offended because of You, I never will be.” You know what “offended” translates to? By saying that His followers would be offended that night, Jesus was implying that they’d “trip up” or “be enticed to sin” due to the fear of being associated with Him. And Peter just wasn’t having it.
However, as you know, Christ went on to foretell of Peter’s denial before the morning rooster would crow three times. If you skim down a few verses, you’ll find Peter hanging out in the shadows of the high priest’s courtyard. He lied on three separate occasions and said that he wasn’t to be identified with Jesus and immediately, the cock crew. The Gospel of Luke is the only one that captures this next moment: Jesus Christ - the Savior of the world - as he was in the middle of making history happen, turned and looked at Peter.
That’s it! And I know it’s just a few words, in a sentence, in the greatest story ever told; but I think that moment changed Peter’s life forever. What happened? What emotions were contained in that one exchange? What all did that glance hold?
Obviously, it was clear to Peter, who knew how confident he’d been (a few hours earlier) in his own loyalty to the Lord, that he just did exactly what he said he’d never do. He denied Him. He answered to sin’s enticement, so to speak.
Peter came face-to-face with an understanding that he’d boasted of the person that he could be, but he had never known for sure who he would be until he was in that trying moment.
This was a brutal confrontation for Peter with the man he truly was and that sense of failure caused him to run away and weep. But that’s just one side of the story...there were two people involved in this experience, right?
What did that glimpse signify for the Son of God? Rightfully, it could have been a scornful look that said, “I told you so,” but it wasn’t. I believe Peter’s sin stared back at eyes full of a compassionate mercy.
In that short moment, Jesus conveyed the very hope of the Gospel: a love that saw past failure. A love that knew no boundaries. A relentless love.
One that said, “Though you’ve failed Me, yet will I love you. And I’ll prove it with what I’m about to do at Calvary. This is for you, too, Peter.”
I don’t know if you’re getting this like I did. Maybe you’ve never been confronted with your failures. Maybe you’ve never communed with God as your undeniable mistakes stood as tall as the elephant in the room. But I have. There have been times when I felt like I could’ve taken Peter’s spot in the instance following his shortcomings when the Lord caught him red-handed. However, I’ve found that every time my deficiencies encountered Christ, they have been met with an undeserved Grace.
The beautiful thing about Peter’s life is that he goes on to become one of the founding fathers of Christianity. He didn’t allow his failure to write the rest of his story and we don’t have to either. Love’s look lingered and it changed his life for good. God wants that for every one of us. Instead of turning away because of your shame, let Love reach the darkest corners of your heart and offer healing.
If you’ve never known God’s love, you’ve never known love at all.
Thank You for allowing me to know a love that renders my mind speechless. It’s one that will never betray me and I know I’m not worthy of it. God, I pray that every reader will give Love a chance to change their life.
In Jesus’s name,