Crowbars and Crosses
A dozen-plus years ago, inspired by Ty Pennington, I convinced my sister to assist me with a little home makeover project. Obsessed with refurbishing the hard wood floors in my home, I couldn’t wait no longer.
After scrummaging around for capable tools, we began the job. First, we tore out a built-in buffet cabinet – along with a good amount of the plastered wall. Undaunted, we next removed the old vinyl flooring, uncovering the original wood beneath. However, this too proved more challenging than expected.
Armed with a crowbar, and other handy gadgets, covered head-to-toe in plaster dust, dirt and sweat, the two of us stepped back to survey the damage. We could see all the way through, down into the basement – it’s not too terribly bad. Okay… no, it is really, really bad! We managed to remove the vinyl along with the sub flooring to which it is attached!
Now, at this point you might think “WOW, she has one big mess on her hands.” However, the real mess hasn’t even shown up yet. The real mess is sitting in Owen Field, deeply engrossed in the 3rd quarter of the OU vs. Nebraska football game. The real mess doesn’t arrive until about 20 minutes later – when my husband picks up his Nokia 3310 in response to my call for help.
The short walk home from the stadium gave him just enough time to become totally aggravated, since he could hear the rumble of the cheering crowd behind him along the way. Rounding the corner from the dining room, he got a solid look at the goings-on in the kitchen ….
Wait for it – Boom!
Now you can go ahead and say it! I had one BIG mess on my hands!
Such good intentions! Such great expectations!
As I read the 18th chapter of John during my morning Bible study, this memory compels me to think about all of my big messes. Oh, I’ve had a few on my hands over a lifetime. Mostly resulting when my good intentions and great expectations have been derailed. How about you?
The disciples of Jesus probably think they had a mess on their hands, the night Jesus was arrested.
John tells us the disciple who betray Jesus has a squad of soldiers and police to accompany him when showing up at the olive grove. Jesus fully realizes all that is going to happen to him. Verse 5 says, “Stepping forward to meet them he asks, ‘Whom are you looking for?’ ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘I am he,’ Jesus said. And as he said it, they all fell backwards to the ground! Peter grabs his sword and slashes off the right ear of Malchus, the High Priest’s servant.” Jesus reigns him in telling Peter in verse 11, “Put your sword away. Shall I not drink from the cup the Father has given me?”
Late in the third quarter of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Peter appears to be knee deep in a mess of his own. But actually, his big mess doesn’t truly arrive till after they arrest Jesus and take him away. A few of the disciples follow after Him. One, being Peter. The short walk to the court yard of the High Priest gives Peter just enough time to become completely and totally aggravated, since he can hear the rumble of the angry crowd behind him along the way.
Verse 17 says, “While Peter stood outside the gate… the girl watching at the gate, let Peter in. The girl asked Peter, ‘Aren’t you one of Jesus’ disciples?’”
Now wait for it … here it comes.
“No,” Peter said, “I am not!”
There it is!
Now we can all say it together… “Peter has one big mess on his hands!”
I mean, really, think about this. Knowing Jesus, then knowing you have made a complete mess out of your relationship with Him has GOT to be the biggest mess of all.
Peter is asked this question twice more, by different people, and each time the answer is the same. “No, I don’t know Him!”
After hanging out with Jesus the Christ for three years, learning from him, witnessing miracles of all kinds by Him, loving Him and being loved right back –how can Peter grab his crowbar and proceed to pry himself away from the firm foundation to which he is attached.
Why would he do this?
In my opinion, for many of the same reasons we continue to do this today; fear, doubt, disappointment, anger, hurt, shame or regret.
When our great expectations are not met, when good intentions fail, when Jesus doesn’t behave according to our well devised plans, we too grab our crowbar –separate ourselves.
We deny Him through our:
- Misplaced priorities
In times like these, while sitting in the dusty mess of our testimony, we can certainly use a makeover of our own. Ty Pennington is good y’all, but he has nothing on Jesus when it comes to restoring and renovating our hearts.
After being arrested, Jesus is sentenced to death by the Jews, beaten, mocked, crucified, put to death and laid in a tomb. Right about here it definitely looks like, not only Peter, but the world has a big mess on its hand.
But, three days later after rising from the grave, John 20: 19-23 tells us Jesus completes His ministry. On this particular evening, the disciples are meeting behind locked doors, in fear of the Jewish leaders, when suddenly Jesus is standing there among them! After greeting them, He shows them His hands and side.
And how wonderful was their joy as they saw their Lord! He spoke to them again and said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and told them, “Receive the Holy Spirit…”
Peter probably is praying really hard for an extreme makeover about now, as he is convicted and compelled by the Holy Spirit. An extreme makeover (or should I say “do-over”) is exactly what Peter gets.
This is how it happened after His resurrection, when Jesus appears again to the disciples beside the Lake of Galilee. Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come too,” we all said. We did, but caught nothing all night. At dawn we saw a man standing on the beach but couldn’t see who he was. He called, “Any fish, boys?” “No,” we replied.
Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get plenty of them!” So we did, and couldn’t draw in the net because of the weight of the fish, there were so many! …Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said; and none of us dared ask him if he really was the Lord, for we were quite sure of it. Then Jesus went around serving us the bread and fish.
This was the third time Jesus had appeared to us since his return from the dead.
Here is where Jesus gets to work. He picks up His crowbar and walks over to Peter and begins to complete a little restoration project of His own.
Beginning in John 21:15, “When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said to Him, ‘You know that I love You.’
“Feed My lambs,” He told him. Jesus ask two more times, and the answer is the same. “Yes, Lord!”
Peter is grieved that He asked him the third time. “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said. “I assure you: When you were young, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God. After saying this, He told him, “Follow Me!”
With his heart, faith, and relationship restored once again, he follows Jesus.
Jesus’ renovation project separates Peter from the love of self and restores in him a heart after God’s own. Because of Peter’s love for Jesus, and through the power of the Holy Spirit within him, Peter gets it.
He understands when we pry ourselves away from Christ, no matter how big of a mess we make of our lives, Jesus is always there waiting to dust us off and bring us back into relationship with Him.
So if you are like Peter, or my sister and me, you too may have a mess on your hands right now. Jesus says “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live” (John 14:3-4).
Go ahead give Him a call! Let Him start your personal restoration.
I can’t wait to see the extreme makeover Jesus has for you (and me)!
Can’t you just see it…? Ty and Jesus standing there together with big ol’ smiles on their faces, waiting to see our reaction?
Everybody shout “Move that bus!!”
Wait for it …