First Monday of Advent: Finding Home
Then seizing him, they led Jesus away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”
But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”
—Luke 22:54-61 (Read Luke 22)
Our relationship began when I offered Travis a bottle of water during a tailgating event on the Greek mall at Fresno State University. He looked at me skeptically.
“Yes, I will take the water,” he said. “Why are you here?”
I gave my usual answer—I was there as a part of a local church. We were on campus to love our neighbors, no strings attached. Travis was intrigued and agreed to grab breakfast with me.
Why was I there? Knowing what I know now, I can say more.
I was there to help Travis find home.
Throughout my life, I have had to redefine and reshape my definition of home. Growing up, I just assumed home was wherever I lived. During college, I said home was where my heart was. Since graduating, I realized that home is where I feel seen, known, and loved.
Jesus’ ministry was always on the go. When he told the disciples to follow him, it was really a call to become a nomad and leave the comfort of a place.
It was in the wandering, I believe, that the disciples found their safe place with Jesus.
He knew their pasts, their failures, their disappointments. He watched them misunderstand the Scriptures, their roles in the Kingdom, His role on earth. Yet Jesus loved his disciples. Through all of the hiccups and shaking of His head, Jesus loved them. He helped them find their home in His love.
Think about Peter. He walked with Jesus. He saw the miracles first hand, he walked on water, he heard about what was to come. But then, under pressure, he disowned Jesus. Luke 22:54-60 tells the story of his denials. But verse 61 raises some questions.
“The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord has spoken to him…”
In the midst of Peter’s most grievous moments, Jesus stops and looks him in the eye. I don’t think Jesus is thinking, “I told you so.” It wasn’t like Jesus to lay more shame on a sinner in their most vulnerable spot. I also don’t think Jesus was surprised that what he predicted would happen had actually happened. He is God, after all.
I think Jesus knew the power of eye contact.
For the previous three years, Peter had walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, and slept in boats with Jesus. He helped to feed the 5,000, watched Jesus heal on the Sabbath, and saw Jesus reattach a man’s ear to his head.
When “the Lord looked straight at Peter,” Peter stopped and remembered his home. And Jesus reassured Peter that He, Jesus, was not done yet.
Like Peter, Travis needed a reminder of home.
When we met for breakfast, he told me that he was a pastor’s kid. He talked about going to church and knowing all the right answers and about being the eldest child and feeling the weight of being a good example for his siblings. At college, he was making mistakes that he had never made before. He felt like he was dishonoring his family and disowning Jesus.
Before we parted ways, I looked Travis in the eye and told him, “You are loved. Your failures, your past, and your current mistakes do not have to define you.”
Tears welled up in his eyes. Then we prayed together.
I continue to meet with and pray for Travis. He can’t find his way home through his own efforts of trying to fix his life or of giving all the “right” answers. Travis’ way home, and mine as well, is found by knowing that even though Jesus sees our mess and knows our brokenness intimately, He loves us.
Jesus, who looks us right in the eyes.
Advent is about the coming of our Savior. Yes, He came to save us from ourselves—our pasts, our regrets, our failures, and our disappointments. He came to fix our lives so we wouldn’t have to.
And Jesus saves us to bring us home, to the place where we are seen, known, and loved.
I invite you to find your home in the eyes of Christ, and to let Him reassure you that He’s not done yet.
—Geraud Brumfield, CCO Campus Ministry Staff in Fresno, California
*Travis is a pseudonym. The name of this student has been changed to protect his privacy.