Do you remember what Peter did before the crucifixion, before Jesus’ death and resurrection? Let me give you a hint. Peter did something a friend should never do to a friend.
On the night before Jesus was sentenced to die, Peter, in fear, denied he even knew his Lord. Did it three times!
“You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” he was asked.
“I am not.”
The question came again from another: “You are not one of his disciples, are you?”
“I am not.”
“Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?” a servant challenged.
Again Peter denied it. Matthew and Mark both report that the last time he denied Jesus, Peter did so calling down curses on himself, swearing he didn’t know the man. Luke says Jesus turned and looked right at Peter after the third denial. Can you imagine that look? Peter, seeing that look and knowing the terrible thing he had done, turned his back on his master, went outside and wept bitter tears.
Jesus knew exactly what his friend Peter had done when he had the “do you love me” conversation with him in John 21. Knew exactly what he had done and still invited Peter over and over again to feed his sheep. Knew exactly what he had done and welcomed him back as a follower. Knew exactly what he had done and saw what Peter was about to become – a bold leader in the baby church.
That story of love encourages me. If Jesus can forgive Peter and use him, he can do the same with me. He can do the same with you too.
There isn’t any sin that you’ve committed that disqualifies you from following Jesus. He accepts even those who have wounded him deeply.
Remember his words on the mount of crucifixion: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NIV)
That’s love! I’m pretty quick to forgive, but Jesus’ words blow me away. I’m not that forgiving.
Do you have a forgiving kind of love? Could you do as Jesus did with Peter if a friend, in fear, denied you in your most desperate hour? I’m willing to admit that it would be hard for me. You know it would be for you too. Suddenly forgiveness isn’t just a word. It’s a crazy concept that makes no sense!
That’s why forgiveness, for me, says, “I love you!” It’s an incredible gift. It costs the giver so much. Jesus gives this gift to us on the cross, but he does it on the shores of the seas of life too. He gives it as we walk along and remember the dumb stuff we’ve done. We recall an incident from the past and he says the most amazing things to us.
“It’s okay. I forgive you. Follow me. Feed my sheep.”
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