Friday, May 21, 2010
Be of good cheer
In Luke 22: 54-62 there is this account of the night when Christ was taken captive:
"Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly."
President Kimball cautioned about "judging" Peter's motives and even suggested that no cowardice was involved when he denied Christ three times. (See Peter, My Brother.) http://emp.byui.edu/marrottr/
I'm not interested in judging Peter. But I am quite interested in this incident, the Lord's actions, and the implications for us.
The hall in which this took place was large enough to have separate groups and conversations in it. But it was still intimate enough that Peter's raised voice in the third denial could be heard across the hall where Jesus was being held. Matthew added that Peter not only denied Christ, but also cursed as he did so. (Matt. 26: 74; see also Mark 14: 71.) When, therefore, the Lord heard this loud outburst accompanying Peter's final cursing denial in that raised voice, "the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter."
It was that "look upon Peter" that provoked Peter's response. Peter did not remember the Lord's earlier comments until His "look upon" him. Then promptly "Peter went out, and wept bitterly."
Now consider this - Here you have Christ's chief apostle and leader whose entire demeanor changes from gruff, loud cursing and denial of the Lord into bitter weeping, because the Lord "looked upon" him.
If you can get this picture firmly in your mind, then you may understand this scripture:
"Then will ye longer deny the Christ, or can ye behold the Lamb of God? Do ye suppose that ye shall dwell with him under a consciousness of your guilt? Do ye suppose that ye could be happy to dwell with that holy Being, when your souls are racked with a consciousness of guilt that ye have ever abused his laws? Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell. For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you." (Mormon 9: 3-5.)
Peter literally experienced the bitterness of hell in that disappointed glance from the Lord. It came from recognizing of how great a disappointment he was to the Lord. It was produced by a mere glance from Christ. He who loved all of us the most was the One whom Peter in return cursed and denied. When he saw himself through the Lord's disappointment, it made Peter bitter, filled with remorse, and caused him to retreat to weep alone.
We do not want to disappoint the Lord. None of us want to see that same look from the Lord that He showed Peter. We have opportunities to do what He asks us every day. All of us do. Little things, moment to moment, particularly if you look for them. They matter. Every thought, every word, every deed. They matter. Let them reflect credit upon your faith in Him.
I'm not saying be dour, long-faced or stoic. Quite the contrary. "Be of good cheer" was His oft repeated expression, even using it as a greeting on many occasions. (See Matt. 14: 27; Mark 6: 50; John 16: 33; Acts 23: 11; 3 Ne. 1: 13; D&C 68: 6, among others.) Cheerfully go about doing good, and trust in Him. He will guide you. He was happy. He was cheerful. So are those who know Him best. (See, e.g., JS-H 1: 28.)
There isn't a single thing you do for His sake which He will forget or fail to credit to you. Nor is there a single mistake which He will remember and hold against you, if you repent. (D&C 58: 42.)
You should let your thoughts be such that you will be confident in His presence. (D&C 121: 45.) Be of good cheer.