Our Lenten Devotion for Friday, April 1, comes to us from Steadfast Love which features reflections and prayers by Ed Arle and Gil Duchow with inspiration from the works of Henri J.M. Nouwen.
61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” Luke 22:61 NIV
“Like Peter, we need to be reminded of our self-confident promises, our failure to keep them, our lack of faithfulness and our powerlessness when we are on our own. But like Peter, we are also reminded of a love that does not leave us, a compassion that has no limits and a forgiveness which is always offered to us again.”
(from Behold the Beauty of the Lord by Henri J.M. Nouwen, page 49Henri)
Prideful Peter once asked Jesus, in effect, if seven was too many times to forgive someone (Matthew 18:21). On that Holy Thursday evening in the High Priest courtyard, Peter learned a hard lesson – that forgiveness is to be unlimited. As the rooster crowed and Jesus glanced his way, Peter was moved to bitter tears of repentance. After his resurrection, Jesus made clear to Peter that there are no limits to God’s forgiveness (John 21:15-19). Peter was fully forgiven, even for denying his Lord three times. Thank God that there are no limits to his forgiveness for all of the thoughtless and shameful ways that we have denied our Lord with our lips and our lives. In response to God’s full and free forgiveness, we gladly forgive those who have wronged us. With God’s help, we set no limits, even after seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:22).
When I consider the number of times that I have been forgiven, I am reminded that God calls me to forgive without limit. If Peter and Paul can be forgiven for their repeated horrible transgressions, then I must be willing to forgive without limit. I do believe that it is crucial to remember that forgiveness does not mean staying in situations in which we are being treated badly. Sometimes, forgiveness means healing pain and letting go of anger while denying opportunities for more sinful, abusive behavior.
Lamb of God, we praise you for your all-sufficient sacrifice of atonement for our sins, and your unlimited grace and mercy. Amen.