Monday, April 25, 2011

Accepting My Ordinariness

Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices to they could anoint Jesus' body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. . . 
When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, "Don't be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn't here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died."
                                                                                                Mark 16:1-2, 5-7

When the angel gave the women his instructions, he singled out Peter. I believe it was a way of letting Peter know he was still loved. He had not been laid aside because of his denial of Jesus.

Contrast the difference between how Judas and Peter handled their sin toward Jesus. Judas could not get over it and commits suicide. Peter moves ahead and remains in his role as a disciple. Peter becomes the leader of the disciples despite having denied Jesus. He can preach forgiveness because he has experienced forgiveness. His failure strengthened his message. Judas could have also had a powerful message of redemption but he could not get over himself and his selfishness cost his discipleship.

Jesus had chosen both men to be his disciples, but only Peter kept his focus on Jesus. Judas was self-absorbed and it was this that cost him his life, not his betrayal of Jesus.

This is a powerful lesson for me. I can put so much pressure on myself that I am unable to see the grace and forgiveness that is always available to me. My self-focus keeps me from focusing on God, so I overstate my own failures just as I overrate my own righteousness. 

I have a friend who observes that we have a hard time accepting that we are ordinary. Peter was able to accept his ordinariness, and because he did, God did great things through him. Judas could not accept being ordinary, and God could not work through him. 

Lord, help me accept my ordinariness, and to keep my focus on you and your greatness. Amen

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