Around 800 years BC the Psalmist penned the words, “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared” Psalms 130:3-4 (NKJV). The forgiveness we have in Christ should be coupled with fear. However, it sounds a little strange to be fearful once we are forgiven. When we repent and trust in Jesus, we have God’s smile and not His frown. His wrath has passed over us. We were once enemies of God in our minds through wicked works, but now we are called “friends.” We can say “Abba Father,” so what’s with the need to fear?
Assumedly, Peter was there when Jesus was crucified. Maybe he didn’t stand with John and Mary at the foot of the cross, but rather he stood afar off with the other disciples who fled when Jesus was arrested. Perhaps he watched as the nails were driven into the feet and the hands of the Son of God and saw the precious blood gush from His flesh. Maybe he heard Him cry “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” We hear about the cross, but those who stood around it were eye-witnesses to its unspeakable horror. They saw Him suffer. Couple that with the fact that He was the innocent Lamb of God and that it was for our sins that He suffered, and it produces a sobering fear.
Richard Gunther sent me the story of a child who was ashamed that his mother’s face was scarred. One day he asked her why she was so horribly scarred, and found out that it happened when she rescued him from a burning building. The terrible scars were there because of her love for him. That was the price she paid to hold her child in her arms.
The cost of our rescue from the power of sin and death was the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s why Peter says, “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:17-19).