Day 5

Encounters with Christ: Peter’s Reinstatement

from the reading plan

John 21:1-25

I have been drawn to Simon Peter since the first time I read the Gospels back when I was a teenager. The reason I like him so much is because 1) he is presented to us as Jesus’ friend, 2) he regularly fails at being a good friend, and 3) Jesus’ love for him never falters. That Jesus would love a walking contradiction like Simon Peter bodes well for you and me.

The story of Peter jumping out of the boat comes on the heels of a pretty spectacular failure. Peter has returned to his home and his former trade—fishing. Only days earlier, in Jesus’ greatest hour of need, Peter denied knowing Him. Perhaps the most painful part was that he did it just as Jesus predicted—before the rooster crowed. When that rooster crowed, something undeniably true came from the deepest recesses of this man. Peter realized he was tested and had failed. This collapse called into question the past three years he had invested as Jesus’ disciple. Of course it did.

After Peter made his denial, Jesus went on to die. This forced Peter to question what the rest of his life was going to look like. When we discover that the durability of our faith is not what we thought it was, we come face to face with the truth that we are all walking contradictions.

But when Peter recognized Jesus standing on the shore, he threw himself into the water so he could swim, fully clothed, to shore and collapse at the feet of his best friend, whom he had betrayed. If we come to Jesus at all, we come in this way: desperate at the feet of the One we deny.

What did Jesus do for the sad and sopping disciple? John tells us He made him breakfast. What wondrous love is this? Since the dawn of time, one man making breakfast over a campfire for another has been a universal way to say, “You and I are friends.”

As Peter stood before his Lord, Jesus asked the most revealing and volatile question He could: “Peter, do you love me?”

Peter swallowed hard and said, “Yes Lord. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”

Three times Jesus asked this. He never questioned Peter’s response, as if He doubted him. But each time Peter confessed his love, Jesus told him, “Take care of my flock.”

What is Jesus doing here? Why did He ask this so many times? One reason was so that Peter would have to hear himself confess the unvarnished truth: “Lord, you know that I love you. I love you and I’ve failed you. But I love you.” Here is the paradox for every disciple who has ever walked the face of the earth. We love Jesus, and we fail Jesus. Yet we love Jesus. Really, we do.

It is so important that we come to see ourselves like this. In effect, Jesus is saying to His disciple, and by extension all who follow Him, “Peter, I don’t need your righteousness. You need mine. And I have given it to you—even now.”

If a disciple as close to Jesus as Peter can fail as epically as he did and still find himself firmly in the grip of the love of Christ, then you and I—when we doubt or when we struggle or when we fear or even when we fail—will not be separated from His love either.

Written By Russ Ramsey

Post Comments (18)

18 thoughts on "Encounters with Christ: Peter’s Reinstatement"

  1. Mark says:

    We will always eventually fall short and fail.

  2. Mark says:

    It really is all about love -not perfect performance. God loves us and saves us. He knows we can’t so he rescues us.

  3. Mark says:

    I fail over and over but still, He saves me. I can’t save myself.

  4. Mark says:

    Remember He forgives and restores. Live out of love and gratitude for Jesus.

  5. Mark says:

    Lord help me not to forget that you REALLY love me always -even when I fail.

  6. Matt Rouse says:

    God is so gentle! He doesn’t come back at us with anger but with compassion wanting to restore that relationship. When I feel like God doesn’t love me I need to examine my own heart for signs of deceit. All I know is that Jesus loves me!

  7. Matt Rouse says:

    We are so fickle! We believe one thing but do another or do one thing and believe another. If God were human he would have good reason to be frustrated with us. Yet he loves us!

  8. Matt Rouse says:

    I love that statement, “God doesn’t need our righteousness, we need his.” That gets to the heart of the problem. It’s not about spending a bunch of time on behavior modification, but it’s about keeping our eyes on the one capable of making the changes. And He will!

  9. Matt Mitchell says:

    I will thank God every moment I can today. I have sinned more than my fair share and He has never failed me. In fact, in my lowest times he has pursued me all the more. That he would make a wretch his treasure brings me to tears. I just want to take a day and thank him for all he has done and continues to do for me and pray that I will live my life worthy of the gospel!

  10. Matt Mitchell says:

    He understands our failures more than we ever will. I think that when I sin or I mess up, that Jesus is just so disappointed with me. If it is habitual sin than there may be temporal consequences to me as a corrective measure but He is not disappointed with me. In fact He loves me and His grace abounds to me! He knew this would happen before the beginning of time. He knew of my failures many millennia before I would make them and yet still deemed me worth dying for to save me! If Amazing Grace is not playing in my head every moment I have that thought then God help me! It is just so remarkable the depth of Gods love for us!

  11. Matt Mitchell says:

    We suck and desperately need Jesus. Not just to make us more righteous but that by him and through him we are already righteous because of His works. We are going to mess up- we will sin! What will follow will be Christ’s forgiveness! What I find to be remarkable is that Jesus told Peter the excruciating way he would die and then, as a matter of fact, told Peter to follow Him! What an imperative after that prediction and yet Peter never looked back!

  12. Matt Mitchell says:

    The only way the Gospel truly is good news is if the failures and sins of man are absorbed in the works of Christ. That is exactly what we see here. Peter was repentant and most likely beat himself up over this repeatedly. He had already seen the risen Lord and was most likely to shocked to process his colossal failure the night Jesus was betrayed. When Jesus left during that initial appearance, I am sure the guilt of his denial was overwhelming! I think Peters choice to fish was to get his mind off the fact that he could not get beyond his guilt and shame. Jesus came to meet Him where he was and to help him process through these feelings. The fact that Peter followed Jesus even though Peter was told he would be crucified tells me that the Gospel message of forgiveness was received well Peter.

  13. Matt Mitchell says:

    Today will be a day of gratitude and thankfulness. I also want to pray that I will grow in my walk with Christ because of what he give me. I know I can’t stop sinning but I also know that I can continuously strive to be what he has created me to be!

  14. John D says:

    He loves me when I deny Him

  15. John D says:

    We will inevitably deny Him

  16. John D says:

    Jesús is faithful to who he is regardless of how I act. He doesn’t need me I need Him.

  17. John D says:

    Always keep the previous thought in mind and try to feed His sheep

  18. John D says:

    Father help me keep both truths in mind. I do love you yet I will deny you by my actions which shows me I am human and you are God. I need this relationship with you!

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