Peter’s Restoration

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these? ”He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep… Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

 

                                             John 21:15-18

I read the last chapter of John last week, thus concluding Pastor Ray’s challenge of reading the book of John for the season of Lent. As I read about the breakfast Jesus made for the disciples on the shore, after they brought their big haul, I started to cry. I wasn’t crying because of the fish, or the thoughtfulness of Jesus to make them breakfast; I was crying for the upcoming interaction Jesus and Peter would have. Peter was a man of great sorrow, I imagine, until the Lord restored him.

 

There is a scene from The Bible miniseries that aired in 2013 in which the producers may have taken a little bit of poetic license, but it showed Jesus and Peter exchanging a look after the guards took Jesus. The cock had just crowed. Peter had such a look of horror and self-loathing at the realization that he had denied His Lord, and had abandoned Him at a crucial moment. Three of the gospels mention that he wept bitterly when he heard the crow; Luke mentions that Jesus looks at Peter as the rooster crows.

 

In the miniseries, the look in Jesus’s eyes was not judgment, disgust, or anger—it was one of understanding, acceptance, and love. That look struck my heart, and has stuck with me for the past five years.

I can’t imagine Peter’s anguish throughout the Passion—I truly cannot grasp how he wasn’t torn apart by guilt, knowing that the last (recorded) interaction with his Savior was one of denial. With the exception of John, Scripture doesn’t record Peter’s thoughts or actions during this time or beyond, until the book of Acts (I assume he was there in the upper room, and he received the Holy Spirit there as well). It is John who writes about how Mary Magdalene summons Peter and John to the empty tomb, and it is only in John that we find the interaction between Jesus and Peter.

There is much commentary on the number of times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, and the different Greek words used for “love” (Jesus used “agape” love in His first two questions and “philo” love in His third; Peter used “philo” love in each response.) Important commentary notwithstanding, the takeaway from this exchange is that Jesus loved Peter enough to allow him to declare his love to Jesus, and Jesus’s re-commissioning of Peter as one of His greatest servants in the church. In that moment, Peter’s sins were forgiven, the relationship more than restored, and Peter was told that he would be crucified for his service to the Lord. In that moment, Peter went from grieving his mistakes and wondering what the Lord thought of him to being fully pressed into His service for the glory of His kingdom.

 

How many of us can identify with the pre-commissioned Peter in John’s chapter 21? How many of us mourn the times in which we denied Jesus by not defending the gospel, by not taking a stand when one was called for, or by not separating ourselves from the world? How many of us wonder of what use we could be in His kingdom, because we wear the moniker of past sins and mistakes?

 

Take heart, my friends. The one Who bore the judgment for our sins on the cross has restored you. Our Savior…Redeemer…the Prince of Peace has poured out His blood to restore you into right standing, and He calls on you to serve Him, if you love Him.

  

Prayer Requests

  • For those who struggle with their past mistakes to realize their value and worth in Him
  • For first responders and their families
  • For us to surrender ourselves to His will
  • For our pastor search committee
  • For us to shine His light to everyone we meet

 

The Holy Spirit personalizes Scripture to you. Picture Jesus asking you the questions He asked Peter. How would you respond?

 

Quotes

“Modern Christians hope to save the world by being like it. But it will never work. The Church’s power over the world springs out of her unlikeness to it, never from her integration into it.”     A.W. Tozer

 

“On the back of Satan’s neck is a nail-scarred footprint.”  C.S. Lewis