We are often lulled into the disillusioning thought that the characters we read of in scripture, who did breath-taking exploits for God’s Kingdom, were all spiritual giants. The reality is they were flawed as much as any of us, and Jesus’ conversation with his closest followers on their way to Gethsemane shines a spotlight on these flaws. In the decades ahead these men, and the women who were part of their community, although not mentioned as often, would play a central part in the advancement of the Gospel. However, Jesus, who had already seen one disciple jump ship, shares some devastating news with them. “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered’.” – Matthew 26:31.
Peter the impulsive one as usual jumps in with both feet. No way Jesus! The rest of these guys might but not me? Not ever, Peter says with boldness. But we know the story all too well. Jesus’ prediction that Peter would jump ship before the ‘rooster crows’ comes to pass the very next day.
Peter obtains much screen time in the New Testament scriptures. He seems to ask the most questions and make the most comments of any of Jesus’ followers. His actions seem to be noted more than any other Disciple. But it is interesting, the Disciple given the most profile by the Holy Spirit in the gospels is the one who seems to get it wrong most of the time. He seems to suffer from ‘foot in mouth’ disease. He is the only one who jumps out of the boat to walk on water but ends up with Jesus saying; ‘why did you doubt?’ (Matt 14:27-31) Peter gets top marks for recognising Jesus was the Messiah, yet completely misses Jesus’ mission of dying for the sins of the world, resulting in Jesus calling him ‘satan’.
Judas in some sense betrayed Jesus once, Peter on the other hand betrayed Jesus three times. The former is cursed forever, the latter the guest speaker at launch day for Church on the day of Pentecost. Why the difference? Possibly because Jesus is more concerned with the state of our hearts than our failures. Peter didn’t fully understand Jesus’ mission but he loved Jesus with a passion. Somehow, I believe that is why Jesus stepped back into Peter’s world again on the shores of Galilee where they had first met a few short years ago. Peter, weighed down with regret, had gone back to the family business, searching for fish when he should have been a ‘fisher of men’ with the message of the Gospel. Thoughts such as; three years with the master and I blew it, must have been racing through his mind. As John shouted, look Jesus is on the shore, Peter couldn’t wait for the nets to be hauled as a mixture of relief, love and passion caused him to abandon his post, dive from the boat and swim ahead to reach the master on the shore. The picture of Jesus beginning his ministry of reconciliation with Peter is gloriously beautiful and deeply moving. In the early morning, as Jesus cooks breakfast over the fire for Peter, it is quite possible that he may have lost his appetite as he remembered an early morning a short time ago when he had spectacularly fulfilled Jesus’ prophesy of his betrayal. Jesus breaks the silence by asking the crucial question. He did not ask Peter what he had done for Him. He asks, Peter do you love me more than anything else? It is fascinating to note that Jesus asks Peter the same question three times, resulting in Peter confirming his love three times the exact number of his betrayal. Jesus then confirms the call he had given to Peter over three years ago; ‘Follow Me!’
Daniel Hochhalter says:
‘Not only does God seek out losers, but he chooses to use them despite their countless embarrassing flaws and their endless ongoing sins—even the really nasty, intentional, one-hundred-percent selfish sins, repeated again and again… Peter is changed, by Jesus’s reconciliation and by the Holy Spirit, from a frightened fisherman to a powerful evangelist with little fear of public opinion, imprisonment, or death.
Heavenly Father, I confess that I have blown it so many times in my walk with you. I have said things I regret and done things that have caused distress to others and myself. I ask you for your forgiveness and thank you for your grace. I love you deeply and would ask that you give me the strength to live on mission for your cause.
More From This Series
View the other Devotionals in our “For the Joy” series