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HOW TO GET UT OF THE GRAVE OF GUILT

Marcelle van der Spuy related the following story which reminds us we all mistakes. On the last day of kindergarten, all the children brought presents for the teacher. The florist's son handed the teacher a gift. She shook it, held it up and said, "I bet I know what it is it's some flowers." The little boy shouted, "That's right!" Then the candy store owner's daughter handed the teacher a gift. Again the teacher held it up, shook it, and said, "I know what it is it's a box of candy." The little girl shouted, "That's right!" The next gift was from the soda pop bottling company owner's son. The teacher held it up and saw that it was leaking. Touching her finger to a drop of the leaking liquid, she tasted it and asked, "Is it cola?" The boy answered, "No." The teacher again touched a drop to her tongue and asked, "Is it grape soda?" Again the boy answered, "No." Finally, the teacher said, "I give up. What is it?" The boy shouted, "It's a puppy!" Oops ! A big mistake that left a bad taste !

Matthew 26:75 finds the apostle Peter with a bad taste not in his mouth but in his heart and soul. On the heels of denying he knew Jesus three times, "Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, `Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.' So he went out and wept bitterly." Peter is now buried in a grave of guilt. He truly failed the Lord in a serious and hurtful way. Had he not denied the Lord, his courage would not have saved Jesus from death, but it would have saved Peter from a burden that threatened to bury and debilitate him under a suffocating load of guilt and shame. But there is good news about Peter's failure— and about our's! It was not final! In John 21 we read of a post-resurrection appearance by Jesus to Peter and several other disciples. The chapter reports not only that Jesus had been resurrected but provides a fascinating report of how Jesus raised Peter from a grave of guilt and shame!

As the chapter opens Peter has left the task of fishing for men which Jesus called him to three years earlier and is again fishing for fish. The Lord shows up for breakfast and after a period of food and fellowship Jesus repeatedly (verses 15, 16, 17) presses Peter with a penetrating question,  "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter responds that he does. The chapter ends with Jesus calling Peter once again to `Follow me" (verse 19b, 21b). The entire encounter reminds us that guilt need not permanently bury us. God is eager to raise us up from graves of sin and shame and restore us to His service. The question is not does God love us and will He forgive us. The question is, do we love Him and will we follow Him again?