Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror and the Christmas countdown has begun. While you’re channel surfing, there’s a good chance you’ll come across the classic holiday comedy movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It’s always good for a December laugh. Near the end of the story, the main character, Clark W. Griswold is humbly apologizing to his boss, taking the blame for a crime of passion, a kidnapping, carried out by his cousin-in-law, affectionately known as Cousin Eddie. He explains, and I quote, “My cousin-in-law, whose heart is bigger than his brain, is innocent.” To which cousin Eddie sincerely remarks, “I appreciate that Clark.”

It’s humorous because it’s not a compliment—saying someone’s heart is bigger than their brain. Everyone knows it’s better to be big-brained than big-hearted…..right?

Or is it….? I wonder what Jesus would say.

Remember the Pharisees, the learned teachers of the Law?— their brains were packed full of scripture committed to memory, of traditions and rules upon rules, protocol, promises, and penalties. Jesus had some memorable quotes when it came to them. In Matthew 3 Jesus calls these big-brained spiritual leaders a brood of vipers. In chapter 23 he really goes off… rebuking the smartest ones in the room for following rules but neglecting what mattered most to God. Jesus called them blind guides, fools, whitewashed tombs, and cups that are clean on the outside and filthy on the inside.

Why did he do this? Because our Savior is more interested in a big heart than a big brain.

Our Savior never mistakes one for the other. This week we take another close look at my favorite follower of Jesus, Passionate Peter. Last week we watched Peter refuse to let his Lord wash his stinky feet, then pivot and insist that his beloved Rabbi wash not only his feet but his head and hands and more! From walking on water to asking questions to rebuke Jesus, Peter’s heart is driven by earnest respect for Jesus, his Lord.

Peter’s heart was in the right place, his heart was good. In verse 33 Jesus is telling his beloved followers, “I am with you only a little longer, you will look for me, but where I am going you cannot come.” Peter replies, like a kindergartener who doesn’t want recess to end, “Where are you going Lord, and why can I not follow you now?” After 3 years, Peter knows he doesn’t want to be ANYWHERE his Messiah is not.

For 3 years Peter lived being fully known.

For 3 years Peter loved the feeling of being truly and fully loved.

He is 100% complete with Jesus. I wouldn’t want to let go either.

In panic and with a bold and desperate, heartfelt plea, passionate Peter blurts out, “Lord, I will lay down my LIFE for you.”

Jesus knows Peter better than Peter knows himself….and he loves him all the more. Peter’s heart shouts a loyalty his brain can’t keep up with.

Peter’s heart is bigger than his brain. And in the Kingdom of God, that is always a compliment.

Donielle Winter

Subscribe to the Daily Fill