This past summer my family and I went on a typical family excursion up to the mountains. It was a beautiful, lively summer day, the kids had been great on the car ride up, and the fresh mountain air was invigorating. We got out of the car and began a short walk to an amazingly cool park. On this particular day the quaint streets of Vail Village were buzzing with people. As we walked through the festive crowd, my daughter, Kara began skipping and singing at the top of her lungs, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
We were surrounded by people on every side and my daughter was singing LOUD. Then, in a moment I am ashamed to even admit, I told her she needed to sing quietly to herself. I was embarrassed. If my sweet girl had been singing “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen or “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey or even the “A B C’s”, I probably would have let her keep belting away as I smiled at the on-lookers. But there was something about her singing “Jesus Loves Me” that I struggled with.
As we walked through the crowd, Kara still skipping but not singing, I felt a deep conviction in my heart. I could feel the sad eyes of Jesus as he looked upon me. I could hear the voice, “Are you really that ashamed of me? Are you really that ashamed of my love?” The moment still haunts me.
It reminded me of a scene in the book of John as Jesus was talking with his closest friends giving what is now labeled “his last discourse”. During the beginning of the discourse Jesus was talking in vague terms about leaving the guys. He said he was going where he could not be followed. Peter, one of his followers and friends replied, “Lord,why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.“ (Jn 13:37). Then Jesus replied, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” (Jn 13:38)
Oh, Peter! I SO GET YOU! The passionate response of loyalty and devotion. The firey heart to be the best friend possible to Jesus. The deep desire to be right by his side. I can only imagine how crushed Peter was at Jesus’ response. I imagine he was expecting Jesus’ gratitude and affirmation not his doubting tone and exposing words. I can see Peter completely deflated like a popped balloon. I would have been. Good thing Jesus’ next lines were “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” (Jn 14:1).
Then right as Jesus was finishing his discourse, he gets handed over to soldiers and taken to the High Priest and his loving friends, Peter and John, followed him. John was known by the high priest and was able to go into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside the gates. Peter went boldly to help his Friend Jesus and fight by his side. But what happens next, while Peter was alone, causes tears to well up in my soul.
Jesus was beginning his darkest hours on earth, he was beginning his journey to be tortured and crucified. And while Jesus was inside, on trial for his life, Peter sat outside and was asked three times if he was a disciple of Jesus. With each inquiry Peter vehemently denies this Jesus man. But something happens on the third inquisition. After questioning Jesus, The High Priest walked Jesus out of the courts to take him to Pilate. Pilate was the only one who had the authority to put Jesus to death.
Here is the scene of the third denial:
“About an hour later (after the first two denials) another asserted, ‘Certainly this fellow was with him (Jesus), for he is a Galilean.’ Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. Jesus 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.’ And he (Peter) went outside and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:59-62)
Oh the look! The look that Jesus gave Peter. I do not think it was one of condemnation or “I told you so”. I believe it was a look from the sad eyes of a wounded and heart-broken man. I believe it was a look of a crushed soul. Oh Peter! Oh to bear that look. I imagine the look pierced Peter’s heart.
I think this was similar to the look I felt when I told Kara to sing quietly because I was embarrassed by the truth of the children’s song, “Jesus loves me”. I could feel the look my heart-crushing denial caused. After that day I wrote in my journal, “Oh Abba, please help me to be reinstated like Peter. (Read John 21:15-19). Help me be one who doesn’t deny you, who doesn’t break your heart. Oh Abba, forgive me. I don’t want to see that look on your face again or be the cause of your tears. May I write, take photos, interact with and love people, not to redeem myself, but because you already have redeemed me. Because you love me!”
So, may I sing. May I sing loud enough for people to know. “Jesus love me! (Jesus loves us!) THIS I KNOW!”