But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
God is Holy. We know this; we sing it. We call the Bible the “Holy Bible.” Yet, when it comes right down to it, our grasp of the holy is not what we see in Scripture.
Take as one example the response of Peter to Jesus. When Peter recognizes that Jesus is different, superior, holy, Peter’s response to Jesus is not to shrug his shoulders and move on. Neither is it to say to his friends, “Look at Jesus. Isn’t he cool?” No, when Peter saw the truth that Jesus is holy, completely different than Peter, a sinful man, Peter was terrified. He begged Jesus to leave him. Why? Peter knew that, compared to his sin, Jesus was infinitely above him, completely beyond him. Peter knew that, to be exposed to such holiness would be deadly to a sinful man, and thus he was terrified.
By God’s grace, we do not have to fear for our souls every time we consider his holiness. In Christ, we may approach God with confidence (Eph 3:12). However, the holiness of God should still cause us to tremble and to be in awe of the fact that a holy God would allow us to know him, to speak his name, to hear his word, to sing his praise.
Let’s face it, we are all sinners. We deserve to be consumed by God’s holy wrath. Every last one of us has done wrong, thought wrong, or failed to do what was perfectly right. God’s infinite holiness should destroy us were it not for the grace that he has granted us in Christ. Today would be a very good day to remember this truth, to tremble at God’s holiness, and to praise him for the marvelous redemption that he has given us in Jesus.