Changing Face -With a Happy Ending

peter-remorseI saw a face go from joyful ignorant bliss, to painful and grieving shame in a split second.  It was a face I’ve seen before.  It’s not a face I wanted to see again.

“The Risen” wasn’t too-too corny of a movie in my opinion.  I actually liked it.  We saw it the other day, and the scene I’m referring to was when one of the disciples (Bartholomew) was called for questioning by a leading Roman magistrate as to how Jesus could be alive again after he (and the other Romans) killed him.

What a beautiful face “Bart” had! Young, innocent, and glowing with excitement from having just seen Jesus alive from the dead.  Everything Jesus said would happen – happened.  As a result Bart was a part of something big!  Very big.  So while grinning from ear to ear, and with his heart swelled up with love, Bart told the Roman everything he knew.

At first the Magistrate was humored by Bart’s innocence and naive trust in him.  How can you hurt such a one?  Did Bart even know that he had the power to kill him right there, or put him in jail?  He didn’t seem afraid at all.  The Roman almost wanted to let him go.

But his career depended on squelching the rumor that Jesus was risen from the dead.  He had to get Bart to admit he was lying and that he and the other disciples stole the body of Jesus.

It was time to pull out a weapon.  Can you guess what I am referring to?  It was the painful accusation sword.  When Bartholomew was done telling his story, the Roman then shook his finger at him and said, “Hmmm, You seemed to have forgotten an important detail.”  Pausing for effect as he got Bart’s full attention, he then continued. “You abandoned Jesus as his death, didn’t you? I was there and watched him die.  But you weren’t there. You ran away and hid, didn’t you?  You left him to die alone with no friends around!

Oh my goodness.  Suddenly the bright light in Bart’s face dimmed as a dagger of regret was thrust into his heart. “It’s true,” Bart said, hanging his head low to hide the well of tears rising up, “I did.

The Roman smiled to himself.  He had him now.  Bart fell to his knees, tears flowing freely.  It was painful to remember his disloyalty.  More painful than he could bear.

The Moment When.

Can you relate to this feeling?  I can.  There are things I’ve done that I am ashamed of.  People whose trust I betrayed because I was afraid.  Offenses I caused with careless words and actions.  Certain things cause me the biggest wound to remember, and for some of them I was in a protracted hell of remorse.  Days, and sometimes weeks, of inner shame and torment.  To hurt another person is to hurt Jesus, and I felt like I left heaven and earth down. There’s no difference between how Bart felt at that moment, and how I have felt.

Until the moment when.  The magical, and life-changing moment when the very one that I hurt said, “I forgive you Pamela, you didn’t know what you were doing.”  The moment when the one I betrayed looked me in the eye and put trust back in me, even though I did not give him or her any reason to.  The moment when the Innocent One I abandoned at his greatest need came back to life, visited me, and warmly loved a wounded soul back to confidence.

Oh Roman accuser.  You are right.  I am guilty of what you said!  But the one I ultimately hurt is not angry with me.  He was not surprised by what I did, and He is not hurt.  I know, because when he saw me He spread his arms out to me and hugged me warmly.  Can you believe it?  He never had it in his heart to disown me no matter what I did!  I was the one who ran from Him, not the other way around.  So yes, my friend and accuser, I can stay here with my head hung low.  Or I can (and do) believe in the everlasting love of the one who is now alive.

In the movie, I rejoiced that Bartholemew stood up.  He did not stay under the power of the accuser.  It was such a glorious scene, and I wish I could describe the triumphal look in his face!  It was the face of victorious freedom and forgiveness.

Jesus is the embodiment of warm, forgiving, and inexhaustible love.

So stand up and put on the face of faith.  Unlike you, He does not remember your sins and failures.