Don’t we all need a second chance and even a third chance; do I hear seven? How about seventy times seven? When the Savior disrupts our failure, misery and self-pity with mercy, forgiveness and a second chance it is not a decision He makes on the fly nor a reaction in real time but instead our failure was anticipated, even expected. In fact, ALL of our failures, those before and after we met Christ were absorbed in the sacrifice of the cross. Our failure is the backdrop of the God’s sweet plan of Love, Grace, Redemption and Restoration. And while we might be surprised that we’ve blown it again, He’s not. He is a Savior who has planned to absorb our failings before they occur in real time.
When Jesus uses the repetitive phrase, “Truly, Truly” He is declaring something to be a certainty: “It’s going to happen, bet the farm!” This is the exact phrase Jesus uttered when He anticipated and predicted Peter’s terrible failure, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” Peter couldn’t imagine that he would ever deny his association with Jesus though the Savior predicted His fall with absolute certainty down to the minute details. It is easy to understand what Peter did. He and Jesus were going places together. They were defeating the bad guys and now the bad guys were winning. His Hope of Salvation was betrayed by an insider, who afterward seemed even more powerful than the Savior Himself. And when the Savior was whisked away by wicked men, Peter bailed. Our journeys are not much different than Peter’s. We too invest an inordinate amount of our hopes and dreams in specific, imagined future scenarios for how our lives will play out and when our dreams don’t come true, we get disoriented, become vulnerable to temptation, find ourselves compromising our faith and then realize a deep emptiness inside of us. We’re like Peter in the sense that we imagine that the gospel is the way to happiness, success, popularity, status, control and blessing. We wrongly believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ will provide us with what we really want in addition to placing us in right, loving relationship with our Heavenly Father. And so when God doesn’t come through on fulfilling our dream, we think He’s abandoned us and we’re ready to abandon Him. Though God is jealous of our heart attitude which says, “I love you but I must have this other thing too,” He extends his hand of mercy and consolation to draw us back to be satisfied in His love.
Meatloaf sang the popular song, “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that” which became an instant classic when Dr. Pepper picked it up for their commercial a few years ago. The commercial pictures a young man who would do anything for his girlfriend including the purchasing of her feminine products, the folding of her laundry and accompanying her to Yoga class and on shopping trips. But when it came to giving up the thing he loved most, his 12 oz. can of cold Dr. Pepper, he chose to draw the line there and break off the relationship. She just wasn’t worth it.
At the beginning of the events of the Passion week of Jesus Christ, the Gospel-writer John gives Jesus’ purpose statement:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. John 13:1ff
John’s gospel deliberately omits many things which he knew were covered by Matthew and Mark but here in the scene of the foot-washing of the disciples as in other places he explains a narrative which was left out by the others, one which clearly had a deep impact on him. John saw this foot-washing not just as an example of servanthood, but a gesture of the deep love and affection that Jesus had for His own. This was the beginning of an extended weekend where Jesus would give many visible signs of His firm, lasting love that would never be quenched not even by death. John understood that the totality of the humiliation of the Son of God from his conception to taking the form of a servant in the foot-washing to His suffering, death and burial was all motivated by tender love.
We ought also to fix our hearts on this conviction for he bears the same tender affection for us.
Jesus’ love motive is in full operation in the foot-washing, which is an integral moment with the whole of His Life of Humiliation which began in His conception and ended in His death, burial and descending before His exaltation in resurrection, ascension and the sitting at the right hand of the Father. The purpose of all of this was to merit salvation for His people. Jesus refused to draw the line of the extent of His love for us. A love that extended from the washing of our dirt all the way to his suffering and death. Jesus says to all who believe and trust in Him, “You’re worth it! I would do anything for love, even that!”
Typically when we share our anxiety about a circumstance with a friend, we expect the friend to respond with a similar angst to our situation. After all that’s how we know they care, right? But when a friend responds with nonchalance, we feel that they don’t really love us. Well sometimes we project this same expectation to God in respect to our prayers. We expect God to mirror our anxiety and sense of urgency so that He will act in a hurry. The problem with that expectation comes when immediate relief to our plight doesn’t arrive, we are left with charging God with apathy towards us.
But God lives and works on another timetable, one that is not driven by my personal anxiety. This is wonderfully illustrated in Mark 5:21-43 as Jairus, the desperate dad/synagogue ruler who comes to Jesus looking for the healing of his dying daughter. As they begin to move toward his home they are interrupted by a poor woman with a chronic bleeding condition. Dick Lucas writes that one of the most striking things in this scene is that, “Jesus takes the time to comfort and teach an unclean woman with a chronic problem, causing a Male Church leader in urgent need to wait.” Jarius deserves quicker attention: he has the clout, the status, the cultural norms, along with a more urgent situation and a higher quality of faith than the woman. Jairus would likely resent the interruption as Jesus lingers with a sick woman (who is not going to die anytime soon) while his dying daughter waits.
The woman tugs at the back of Jesus’ robe and gets his attention. Moments later the Synagogue Ruler is tugging on the same robe saying in his heart, “Come on Jesus, we need to go. Perhaps you don’t understand the meaning of the word ‘URGENT.'” The bleeding woman comes with a superstitious faith, she believes poorly and lives while Jairus comes humbly with surprising confidence, he believes well and his daughter is going to die.
Without spoiling the ending for you, it would be good to pause at this moment of interruption and delay to make a point from God’s perspective. The point is that delay doesn’t negate his answer and delay doesn’t negate his love. God’s delayed response doesn’t equate to a lack of love and concern as His love is compatible with even baffling delays. His is the Perfect Timetable; the Just Right Calendar. The Lord would say to Jairus and to us in the midst of interruption and delay, “Despite how things appear at the moment, I love you and care deeply about your circumstances.” But He will not Hurry. He will not be rushed. He’s too Holy, Wise, and Powerful to Hurry.