I had a light bulb moment the other day.
You know how you can read the same thing 100 times and never see some particular angle?
I was enjoying my audio Bible on the way to work. A passage i've read many many times. And something jumped out at me in a brand new way. It's what Jesus said to His chosen disciples right before they all left Him completely alone is His most difficult life-on-earth moment. You know what He said?
I'll tell you in a minute.
Have you ever been driving down the road in your car or maybe your bike, and you notice something off on the side of the road? Did you take a little too long a look and turn to see that you and your vehicle are heading head-long toward someone's mailbox? Or worse, oncoming traffic?
There's a very popular scripture that is usually quoted with a real stern and decided voice. "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." It has sadly and mistakenly been used to illustrate that God has no time for people who mess up. But if someone will read it with the entire chapter it's in (Luke 9), please, someone may find that Jesus used this illustration shortly after a couple of folks had come to Him and said, basically, "hold on a second, Jesus, i'll be right there," promising to follow Jesus once they had a few things sorted out. And then Jesus was responding, with an illustration that those people would've understood better than we would. If i may paraphrase, "You can't plow a straight line while you're looking behind you. You have to be all in, two hands on the wheel, eyes focused forward." Jesus said, if you're looking behind you, you're not well-placed (per my quick word study) in the Kingdom of God.
O.k., back to Jesus at the end of His days, right before being taken away to be crucified. Right before the moments he had sweated blood over the night before. (Now, that's a serious stress level.) At that moment, before his closest companions are going to leave Him to the will of the angry crowd, He says to His disciples, (Mark 14:27), "you will all fall away..." and then He tells them about His plans to get back with them in a few days. And Peter, who Jesus named, "the rock," of all things, insists he will never forsake Jesus for a moment, not for any reason! And Jesus perfectly predicts how Peter will, not just run away, but completely disown Jesus three times before the end of the day! Which Peter does!
Now let me tell you why all this is important and why it made me well up with tears on my way to work. Jesus knew ahead of time that his #1 crew of appointed supporters would completely lose it when times got tough, and He picked every single one of them anyway! Jesus knew that HIS grace was sufficient to restore His brothers. (I believe that even Judas could've been restored had he stuck around long enough.)
Now if men who had walked next to God in the flesh for 3 years, who had learned from Him, been taught by Him, in person, were known by God to be so weak in their humanness that they would fall apart, and He used them anyway, and He made them strong anyway, and He made them fit to look straight forward and keep both hands on plough, and He made the way for them to fulfill their purpose in Christ anyway, how much more does He understand our weakness, and how much more is His grace sufficient to restore us when we fall apart and fall away and disown Him, even betray Him.