This post was originally on another blog of mine.
It has been (Re)Moved and placed here.
Today is Easter Sunday, 2014. In my youngest son's words, "Christmas is over-rated; for the Christian, Easter is what it's all about. It's RESURRECTION DAY!" During our Sunday School class we talked a bit about the incident between Peter and Jesus after the resurrection. But first, some background is in order.
Peter often seemed to jump in with both feet before he thought about the cost to himself. (I have been known to do that myself.) In Luke 22:33-34, during the "Last Supper," Peter declared that he was willing to go to prison and even die with Jesus. Jesus knew Peter and his exuberance - and probably loved that about him. But He told Peter that before the rooster crowed that day, he would deny Jesus three times.
Then in Luke 22:54-62 it happened just as Jesus had said. We read, "Then seizing him (Jesus), they led him 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.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
He, no doubt, had a ton of guilt about that. Just the evening before he had declared his willingness to die with Jesus. But then he denied that he even knew him. And Jesus looked right at him. ~gulp~
So, sometime after Jesus' resurrection, He met the disciples on the shore. He had breakfast prepared for them and after they had eaten together, Jesus asked Peter 3 times, "Peter, do you love me?" After the first 2 times Peter said, "Lord, you know I love you." After the third time, John 21:17 says that Peter was hurt that Jesus asked him 3 times, and he said "Lord, you know all things, you know I love you." Each time Peter answered him, Jesus said, "Feed my sheep." (Yes, the first time he said "Feed my lambs.")
This story really hit me today. I've heard it many times but today I thought more about why Jesus did this and how Peter must have felt about his betrayal and about Jesus putting him on the spot. As a side note, I find it interesting that Peter denied Jesus three times and Jesus asked him if he loved him three times. I don't know any significance but I'm guessing that is not a coincidence. I bet Peter noticed it.
First, Peter didn't answer with his usual exuberance. In the past, he might have said something like, "I love you so much, I'd follow you to the depths of the ocean." Or, "I love you so much, I will do whatever you tell me always without hesitation." But, after his last declaration AND betrayal, he simply said, "Lord, you know I love you." I'm guessing he was embarrassed and then humbled by his own actions and shortcomings. Maybe this humbling is just where Jesus wanted Peter to be. Maybe he couldn't use him as fully without that humbling. Maybe it's true that our failings do, at least, provide an opportunity for growth.
But in giving Peter a job, a commission to feed His sheep, Jesus was also telling Peter that He knew his heart. That he knew that, even though Peter sinned against Him, he could be forgiven and move past his sin. He was telling Peter that his sin did not define his future or his calling. That Jesus could still use him in a BIG way.
We so often let our sin define who we are in Jesus instead of letting Jesus define who we are in Him. We let the enemy of our souls have his way with us by letting him convince us that we are useless to the Lord because we haven't yet reached perfection.
I think this story shows the love and tenderness with which Jesus deals with us. With me. Jesus was telling Peter that He had confidence in him to do the right thing, despite his previous sins. I take courage. Jesus can still use me, too, if I humble myself to Him and turn from my selfish, lazy ways. 1 John 1:9 says that "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."