And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. -Matthew 26:30-35
This selection from Matthew’s Gospel is well known, but is most often used during the Easter season. We all know what happened next, right? By the end of v. 56 the scripture says “Then all the disciples left him and fled.” The sad truth is that people are going to let you down. There are some folks we are naturally suspicious of, but most people we would like to think we can trust. My advice to people is trust in God, but lock your car. Sometimes it is the very people we should be able to put our trust in that let us down. In this sinful, fallen and broken world it is sometimes the police, a school teacher, a church leader or a parent that crosses the line and hurts rather than helps.
For this reason, sometimes painting the picture of God as our heavenly Father is no good. That language will turn some away from God. Some people don’t know their father at all, some hate their fathers very much. There are simply some kids that are better off staying away from their fathers. All of the family relationships are modeled in such a way to teach us something about God; husband-wife, father-child, mother-child, sibling-sibling, child-parent. But none of us are perfect.
Hopefully we can communicate to others what a father is supposed to be like. The father in the prodigal son story represents what God is like to a group that led the church in Jesus’s time but missed the point. As the prodigal son came up the road, the father met him along the way, well before he reached the house. What must the father have been doing? He must have been watching and waiting for his son to return. The son had a whole plan worked out, but the father didn’t even listen to him. He called for a robe, a ring, sandals, and started the party. That’s what our heavenly father is doing; he is constantly watching and waiting for his children to come to their senses and start for home.
The Bible says simply that “God is not a man that he should lie.” We are made in God’s image, and posses many attributes that God shares. The goal for Christians is to become like Christ. But we never do so perfectly. We are fallen, sinful and broken, and we live in a world affected by sin and the curse. God is perfect, and he loves perfectly. I might let you down, I might forget my promises; God never will.
If you grew up in happy and safe environment with parents who loved you, then thank God for his grace. If you’re family was less than perfect, then welcome to the human experience. There was a time before the fall when Adam and Eve had a perfect relationship, and lived in fellowship and community with God. God wants to restore that relationship with each person. And someday, we don’t know when, he will restore heaven and earth. This is his promise; he will not let us down.