Family Bible Study lesson for July 1: When Commitment Crumbles
June 15 2001 by Catherine Painter , John 13:31-38; 18:15-18, 25-27

Family Bible Study lesson for July 1: When Commitment Crumbles | Friday, June 15, 2001

Friday, June 15, 2001

Family Bible Study lesson for July 1: When Commitment Crumbles

By Catherine Painter John 13:31-38; 18:15-18, 25-27 "Mommy, what is a Christian?" "Someone who loves and follows Jesus."

"Mommy, do we know any?"

Gandhi said, "I would become a Christian if I could see one."

Our younger daughter asked during the week she married whether there were things I didn't love about Jack.

"Do you have a couple of hours?" I asked, narrowing my eyes.

Unable to remember any, I gave up, saying, "Certainly there were times we disappointed each other, but love has erased them from my memory."

John 13 begins and ends with love (see vss.1b and 34-35).

Jesus' approaching departure (John 13:31-35) Judas leaves the Upper Room. The mood relaxes. It's as though Jesus gathers His disciples, holding them like frightened children (see v. 33). In soft lamplight, they lean forward, hanging on to His every word. He says He is leaving and they cannot follow, referring to His death. Crucifixion will look like shame to them, but Jesus declares it will be God's glory in Him.

He gives a new commandment: "Love one another." The command is not new in time - it's as old as Moses (Lev. 19:18) - but new in experience. They are to love each other as He has loved them, making Himself their example (see 15:13).

Jesus announces Peter's denial (John 13:36-38) Peter asks, "Lord, where are You going?" Again, Jesus speaks of His crucifixion and suggests that Peter will die the same way. Overly confident, Peter declares, "I will lay down my life for you" (v.37). Jesus, knowing him better than he knows himself, insists, "... before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times" (v. 38b)!

Peter's crumbling commitment (John 18:15-18) In the Upper Room Peter could brag about his willingness to die for the Lord, but testing comes in the courtyard.

When a young seminarian asked Jack how he stayed in the same pastorate 21 years, he answered, "By not quitting; love gives staying power."

Peter has staying power. I don't berate him for denying Christ or by "following at a distance" (Luke 22:54b). I marvel that he follows at all. One disciple has betrayed and the rest have fled, except Peter and John.

Peter's "not quitting" makes him recognizable. A servant says, "You also were with Jesus of Galilee" (Matt.26:69).

Peter insists, "I don't know what you're talking about" (Matt.26:70), playing dumb. Close call!

He retreats to the gate where another announces, "This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth" (v.71b). Peter curses and denies it: "I don't know the man" (v.72)!

Accusations mount. The mood intensifies. Fear urges Peter to flee; love won't let him. A relative of the man whose ear he cut off challenges: "Didn't I see you with him in the olive grove" (John 18:26)? "Your accent gives you away" (Matt.26:73b).

So did mine once. Arriving at a bed and breakfast in Nova Scotia, Jack introduced us. I added, "We're from North Carolina."

"We would never have known!" A guest quipped. I disregarded the slight, but meditating on it now, I pray, "Lord, let my accent so resemble yours that one day it will reveal me as Your follower too."

Peter's failure (John 18:25-27) Peter warms himself by the enemy's fire. I wonder: How often have I warmed my hands by the world's fires? How many others will warm themselves until the fires of this world become the flames of eternal disaster?

At Peter's third denial the rooster crows. Luke says, "The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter" (22:61). Peter remembers his claim: "... I will never disown you" (Mark 14:31b), and goes out to weep bitterly.

Someone said, "The most meaningless statistic in a ball game is the score at half time." This is "half time" in Peter's life.

Peter's comeback says God is more interested in where we're going than where we've been.

Many wonder about the look Jesus gave Peter. Was it anger? Reproach? No! It was a look of love that said, "I forgive; I'll never let you go." It's the same look we've received when we've stumbled and repented.

So Peter becomes the leader of the church. We place him in stained glass windows, label him "saint," name sons for him. And when you and I recover from enough of our own stumbles, perhaps the next time the child asks, "Mommy, what is a Christian?" Mommy can answer, "A Christian is one who loves and follows Jesus," and point to us.

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6/15/2001 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter , John 13:31-38; 18:15-18, 25-27 | with 0 comments
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