Grace for Every Failure
The New Testament mentions twice that the risen Christ appeared to Peter: once in this passage and again in 1 Corinthians 15:5. Why would Peter, of all people, receive such special treatment?
After all, not long before this event, Peter had failed his Master in His darkest hour. Just before Jesus was arrested, He told Peter that a trial lay ahead: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” Peter responded, rather audaciously, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” But Jesus knew Peter’s heart: “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me” (Luke 22:31-34).
As it turned out, Peter wasn’t as ready to face prison and death as he had imagined. We all know now, as did Jesus that very day, that Peter did indeed go on to deny his Lord three times. And afterward, when Peter recalled what Jesus had predicted and realized what he had done, he was reduced to tears (Matthew 26:75; Luke 22:62).
So why does the New Testament emphasize that the risen Lord Jesus appeared to Peter? Certainly not because Peter deserved it more than anybody else. But it’s fair to wonder if Jesus appeared to Peter because he needed it more than anybody else. Peter knew that he had blown it completely—and yet while Peter had denied Jesus, Jesus didn’t deny Peter. What mercy, what goodness, what kindness, what grace, what compassion, that Jesus still chose to go to the cross for His flawed disciple and then chose to make a special appearance to him!
We have stumbled. We have been deniers, deserters, staggerers. We know that we do not deserve for God to come to us. And yet as we go to God’s word and as we open our lives to its truth, it’s almost as though Jesus comes, sits right down beside us, and says, I’m here. I want to speak to you. I want to assure you. I want to forgive you. I want to send you out in My power.
Peter didn’t deserve the compassion he received from Jesus—and honestly, neither do we. Our failures show us time and time again that we are far from being worthy of God’s grace. But in His mercy, He is pleased to give it anyway—and then give some more. He’s just that kind of God. And you, like Peter, get to be His beloved disciple.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Jesus and Peter
15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, 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.” 16He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, 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 everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Jesus and the Beloved Apostle
20Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 23So the saying spread abroad among the brothers2 that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”
24This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.
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