It’s 2018, and the new year is in full swing. A few days ago, a friend texted me from the gym. “I hate January. Every treadmill is full, the group classes are packed, and all these people will be back in line at Burger King by February 1.” I laughed, commiserating, and then guiltily pulled my car out of the drive-through line.
Ok, just kidding.
But if I’m being honest, I’ve already seen a handful of my resolutions go up in flames, their ashes covered by Oreo wrappers and TV guides.
In church this week, we explored a Biblical account of a resolution gone wrong. It’s a familiar story. The disciples are reclining at the Passover table with Jesus, oblivious to the horrors that the next hours will hold. Reaching for the bread, Jesus promises to break His body for them. And then He tells the Peter…
“‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’
[Peter] replied, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.’
Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.’”
You know what hit me here? The names. Jesus called him “Simon.” I mean, when Jesus meets Peter in John 1, the first thing He says to him is, “You are called Simon son of John. You will be called [Peter].”
“Simon” was the name he used while he was a fisherman, the name he used before he encountered Jesus and turned his entire life upside down. “Peter” is the name that Jesus has promised to build His church upon.
Now here they are, three years later, with so much history under their belts. Attacking mobs, countless miracles, hundreds of sermons, unprecedented love. And Jesus calls him Simon.
I can’t help but wonder if it stung to be called “Simon” by the very One who had redeemed him into “Peter.” And I can’t help but wonder if that was what prompted his promise – his resolution – not to fail.
But fail he will. And Jesus knows all too well about the upcoming fire and the slave girl and the curses Peter will use in denying Him. So He says, “You are going to fail…Peter.”
He called him Peter. In the same breath that Jesus embraces Peter’s failings, He also reverts to his redeemed name.
This ruins something inside my Western, disciplined, self-sufficient little heart. Because if I believe the words of Jesus, my worth isn’t in my success or failure as a Christian. It’s in Who has named me.
Pope Francis writes that when Peter hits rock bottom, he “meets the gaze of Jesus who patiently, wordlessly says, ‘Peter, don’t be afraid of your weakness, trust in me.’ Peter understands, he feels the loving gaze of Jesus, and he weeps.”
So I embrace this season of resolutions with freedom and not fear – not because I’m confident in my abilities, but because I know Who has named me. Perhaps my greatest accomplishment is to stand underneath that loving gaze.