Hope for Vow Breakers
Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 23-25; Mark 14:51-72
21 “If you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay fulfilling it, for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and you will be guilty of sin. 22 But if you refrain from vowing, you will not be guilty of sin. 23 You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth. Deuteronomy 23:21-23
72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. Mark 14:72
The Mosaic Law held the Israelites up to high and noble standards of integrity and social concern. There were numerous laws protecting the needy from exploitation by the wealthy. Here we see a law applying to the making and keeping of vows. Vows were made freely, before God, but once made they had to be kept. People were not to swear casually, but to take seriously their commitments. Talk was not to be cheap. A man’s word was his bond.
Certainly we see the breakdown of this in our society. We have become a litigious society in which people have to sign a ream of legal documents to get a loan for a used car or to rent an apartment. Couples marry and divorce as if no binding vow had been made.
Peter broke his vow to Jesus, to stand by Him even if it cost him his life. He shamelessly denied the Lord. Peter was not the only one, but Mark gives us a close up of Peter’s cowardice and remorse. The grief Peter felt when he heard the rooster and remembered Jesus’ words is palpable.
Who of us has not broken a solemn vow of some kind? Who of us cannot identify with Peter’s rash vow of faithfulness and thoughtless lying to save his skin? Peter could not keep his vow, not even for one night. He needed an innocent lamb to die for his sin, the broken vow and a million other transgressions. So do we. Jesus did that on the cross.
Do not get stuck in endless remorse and weeping. Trust Christ, who bore our sins in His body on the cross, that, in Him, we might become forgiven vow-breakers and the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).