1997-06-05 - Foundations
Ask anyone who knows a whit about architecture or building a good sized building, and they will tell you that if you don't get the foundation right, don't even bother starting. The immense weight of a building and the stresses and energy that must be endured by the structure in windstorms are all eventually transferred to the foundation. If the foundation is not right, it will not be able to take the load that is demanded of it.
On the 6th of June, my wife and I will have been married 16 years. An accomplishment in this day and age of disposable marriages and quick divorces. We went into the relationship knowing in our minds that there would be tough times, and disagreements. Our disagreements have not been as bad as we might have thought, but tough times have come that we could never have forseen. Our commitment before God was made, and our promise was to stick together and help each other, no matter what is dished out. Without knowing that God was in the relationship, working with us and for us, and honoring that promise, we could simply have been another statistic. But our foundation was with God. Some will say that they started with the same ideals and they have failed. I can not say why, nor would I dishonor them with the attempt. God knows their hearts far better than I ever will.
Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps away in vain. (NAS)
I can think of two men who show us both sides of this concept. The first man is Judas. He built his house, his life, on the shifting sands of human understanding. Even though he literally walked with Jesus, cast out demons and healed the sick, something in his faith did not let go of that human foundation and lean on God. In the end, after he realized that Jesus was betrayed unto death, he ran headlong into despair. In that despair, he hung himself. He did so in a very painful way. Tying his ankles and his neck with the same rope, so that when he jumped, it pulled his feet to the back of his head and ripped open his abdomen. Death was surely quick, but I can hardly believe that it was painless. But that pain would be far short of the pain and despair he would step into has he entered eternity.
The second man is, as some of you may have guessed, Peter. So many of us identify with Peter because of his various ups and downs. One week he is praised by Jesus as he makes his great confession that Jesus is The Christ, the anointed one of God, the Savior. The next week, Jesus rebukes him sternly for laughing at the idea that Jesus would have to die for sinful man.
Matthew 16:23 But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but mans."
Peter must have recoiled physically as if struck. And yet, Peter must have learned a great deal from that incident. Maybe not immediately. But by the time Jesus had been condemned by the Sanhedren, Peter could not deny that Jesus was going to His death. And when Peter denied even know Jesus with cursing, Jesus looked on Peter with compassion. He knew that Peter was afraid for his life, justly so. Even though, only hours earlier, Peter had promised to die with Jesus if it came to that end. Peter also plunged into despair. Where it says he wept, it is better translated 'convulsed'. The kind of sobs that tear out your heart and shake your whole body. Peter's fear was eternal, not temporal. He had denied his Lord, and now his Lord would surely deny him. When it mattered most, he had blown it. And yet, his foundation was with God. There was a glimmer, however tiny, that Jesus would not cast him out utterly. Perhaps there was some small place, door keeper perhaps, for Peter in the Kingdom. He had seen Jesus forgive so many of so much. He had told Peter to forgive 70 times seven times, when Peter had magnanimously offered seven times. Jewish law only required three times..
When Jesus appeared to the disciples for breakfast after the second miraculous catch, Peter dragged the net ashore while John dove headlong to meet Jesus. Peter knew that it was time to find out if Jesus would turn His back on him. He surely was afraid, and yet, he had to know. Of course, Jesus restored Peter three times, once for each denial. While Judas did not have his eyes on eternity, Peter did. Judas certainly could have been forgiven, if he would have asked. But he did not ask, he reasoned with his human mind. Peter believed enough, maybe just enough, to ask. Peter's foundation was indeed built on the rock of Christ Jesus, and it weathered the storm.
Maybe you think that you are not worth Jesus' time. You have sinned so deeply and so long, how could Jesus forgive all that? Jesus drank that cup of the wrath of God to the bitter dregs, every last drop. Nothing was left unclaimed by Jesus on the cross. And there was nothing left that He did not claim victory over on that first Resurrection morning. Jesus specifically mentioned Peter to Mary. Tell the guys and Pete it's okay, I understand Mary. It is a lie, a pitiful lie of the enemy that something you have done is unforgivable. "It is finished!" is literally translated, "Paid in full!". The only thing that Jesus can not overlook is not accepting His free gift of eternal life. If your pride, like Judas' pride, will not permit you to humble yourself, then think hard. Is your pride worth eternity? If Jesus is your Lord, then know that He stands ready to comfort you as you weep, and to restore you to whatever place He has for you in His plan. In either case, He loves you. He will not turn you away.
Matthew 11:28 Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Not maybe, not for some, for all. The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come."
Lord Jesus, We can only stand in awe of your great heart and willingness to forgive. Without it, we would all be lost forever. All you ask is that we set aside our pride, and our limited understanding, and put on humility and let You help us and teach us. Putting those things down requires some courage to admit that we can't do it alone. Grant us that strength to admit our own weakness. In that moment, You assure us that You will be there. Not in condemnation, but in grace and mercy. Thank you. Amen.
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.