Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Best Surprise Ever 4: Surprising Forgiveness

This is Part Four in a seven-part series of family devotions leading up to Easter.  Here is Part OnePart Two and Part Three if you need to catch up.    
Verse to Remember: Lord, you are forgiving and good. You are full of love for all who call out to you. - Psalm 86:5 (NIrV)
Big Idea:  Jesus is loving and forgives me when I blow it.
Have you ever had a friend turn their back on you when you needed them most?  Maybe you were having a tough day at school, and they didn't have time to talk to you, or maybe you needed help with a math problem, and they refused.  Maybe someone was picking on you, and instead of standing up for you, they joined in and made fun of you too. If that's ever happened to you, then you know a little bit about how Jesus felt the night he was arrested.
When the soldiers came after Jesus, all of his friends ran away, even Peter, one of his best friends in the world.  Peter had promised that he would never leave Jesus. He said he would stand by his side even if everyone else deserted him.  
But Peter was wrong.  He didn’t just run away. Peter lied and told people he didn’t even know Jesus.  Can you imagine that? What if you got in trouble at school and your best friend told the teacher he wasn't your friend just to keep himself out of trouble?
Would you want to hang out with a person like that?  Probably not. But Jesus did. Jesus loved Peter no matter what, and he knew exactly what Peter was going to do.  Jesus told Peter, “I tell you, Peter, you will say three times that you don’t know me. And you will do it before the rooster crows today” (Luke 22:34NIrV).  
A few verses earlier, however, Jesus told Peter he had already prayed for him and that his story wasn't over.  Jesus said, “When you have turned back, help your brothers to be strong” (Luke 22:32 NIrV).
Jesus didn’t just predict Peter’s failure.  He also predicted Peter’s forgiveness. He told Peter that after he blew it, he would come back to God, and Jesus would give him an important job.  
Think about that. It would be tough to pray for a friend and encourage them knowing they were going to turn their back on you.  It would be even tougher to forgive them. But Jesus did it anyway. He did it for Peter, and he did it for us.
Jesus loves us no matter what we do.  He loves us just as much on the days we make mistakes as he does on the days we get things right.  His forgiveness sets us free to start over again and again and again.

Jesus, you know my sin.  You know everything wrong I’ve ever done and ever will do.  Thank you for loving me anyway and dying for that sin so I can be forgiven and free.  Amen.

Talk About It 
1. What do you think Jesus was thinking when Peter said he would never leave him?
2. Have you ever had a friend disappoint you?  Did you forgive them or did it mess up your friendship?
3. Have you ever disappointed a friend?  How did they treat you?
4. How does it make feel knowing that Jesus will forgive you and help you to start over no matter what?

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