“Woman, I don’t know Him!”………… “Man, I am not!”…………. “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”…..1,2,3. Just like that we see the first recorded example of a prominent leader in the church experiencing a spiritual, ethical, and moral failure. This wasn’t just any leader, this was Petros, Peter, the Rock. Peter was headstrong, committed, and driven to prove his commitment and loyalty to Jesus. This was the one that Jesus had a named the rock, the pillar on which Jesus would build His church. How could this be? How could Jesus have made this statement when He knew that Peter would fail Him?
Today is the Friday before Easter, the day that we mourn the events of the cross. There is no debate the pain and torment that Jesus experienced on the way to the cross was beyond our comprehension. Jesus’s friends and family miserably watching in helpless horror. I can only imagine how hard this day had to have been on Peter. Peter had just days earlier looked boldly into the eyes of his best friend and leader, Jesus, and swore that he would never leave or deny him. Now, here he was watching Jesus beaten, whipped, and crucified knowing that he had done the unthinkable, denied that he even knew Jesus.
The days that followed for Peter must have been incredibly painful. Surely he lived with the guilt of his actions, replaying his behavior over and over in his mind. Each time recognizing things and actions he could have done differently to avoid his tragic and painful fall. There must have been unspeakable joy in Peter’s heart to know that that Jesus was alive! He had risen, just as He had foretold! However, this meant that Peter must face Jesus and the reality of what he had done. Surely this meant punishment, Peter must have thought that he would likely be removed from his role as a disciple and would no longer be a part of growing God’s kingdom.
Peter returned to what he knew, fishing. It appeared he wasn’t much of a success at that either because we see in John 21:3 that they fished all night and caught nothing. The next morning a figure on the beach instructed Peter and the disciples to toss the nets on the opposite side of the boat. When they did as he instructed, they were unable to haul in the load of fish. But for Peter, there was something different about the figure on the beach. He realized it was Jesus. Peter put on his robe and jumped in the water as fast as he could to reach Jesus. Peter was racing to Jesus, he sought forgiveness, he sought restoration, he sought grace.
I am certain that Peter assumed that there would be a lengthy dialogue replaying each of his sins. I am sure he thought Jesus would create this lengthy plan to restoration and one day if Peter executed all of it, he might be able to tag along with the disciples and wash their feet. The last thing that Peter expected was unconditional forgiveness and complete restoration. John 21:15-18 shows us that not only did Jesus forgive his sin, but restored him to pastor of the first church.
Today I write this to encourage those of you who are followers of Christ and have experienced a moral, spiritual, or ethical failure. For one to truly understand amazing grace, one must have been in a position to be unforgivable, and yet receive forgiveness. Today we celebrate our sins being nailed to the cross, all of them. The sins of today, yesterday, and tomorrow. On Sunday we celebrate Jesus’s victory over that sin. He is no longer dead in sin, and we are no longer dead in our sin, no matter how big or small that sin may appear to the world. This weekend, celebrate your victory over sin, your unconditional forgiveness, and your purpose and worth in His kingdom. He has great plans for you, just follow Him!