John 21:17 “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”
Have you ever allowed yourself to be overwhelmed by the mercy, grace, and forgiveness of God?
Put yourself in Peter’s shoes.
He was the loyalist, the zealot. He was bold and brash in his declaration of his love for the Lord. He stepped out in his faith to declare his love and loyalty for Christ. Yet, in time when it would’ve counted, he denied Him. Not once, but three times.
The guilt and shame of that moment must have been used by Satan to drive home the unworthiness he already felt. He did not feel as if he deserved to be called a disciple. He distanced himself from the group and began to withdraw his association with them.
Jesus knew this, and when he sent the angel, the angel said:
Mark 16:7 “But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.”
This marked the beginning of what Jesus wanted to do before He left. In this exchange on the shore, Jesus found these men following Peter back into the world, fishing. Jesus called unto them, and it was John who recognized him first.
John 21:7 “Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.”
The command to cast the net on the other side, the catch, and the revelation Peter heard from John overwhelmed his heart. He dressed and didn’t even wait to finish the job of reeling in the net. He threw himself into the sea and swam ashore to Jesus.
When they assembled on the shore, they found that Jesus had already prepared that for which they were fishing. To know that my God will supply all my needs settles my faith firmly on His promise.
Philippians 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
This well-prepared moment was for Peter. The Lord asks Peter three times:
“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?”
Many say it was to equal the denial. Others say it was his body, soul, and spirit that needed to hear the forgiveness offered to him. We can analyze it all we want, but the mercy Jesus showed Peter that day means a great deal to us today as well.
We see a man devastated by his own failure, shrunk back into himself, and returning to the world.
We see so many of God’s children falling and failing around us. Yet, we are called to show the same mercy, love, and grace our Lord showed Peter. To follow the axiom that we should treat others as we would want to be treated applies.
We want love.
We want acceptance.
We want security.
All are found in Christ.
After a fall, coming back is difficult because the enemy assaults our mind to think we are no longer in the family, rejected, unloved, and alone.
Mercy extends a hand to pull us back into the peace and protection of all that God has to offer.
Mercy goes beyond judgment and condemnation.
Mercy enlightens our eyes to a new perspective of how God sees us and not how we see ourselves.
Mercy opens the door to forgiveness and restoration.
In the exchange on the shore that day, it was not Peter’s love for God that was in question. It was averting the death of that love due to failure.
Jesus’ love for Peter went far beyond the denial.
The mercy that was shown Peter that day paved the way for him to see his world differently.
Peter became a different man after that day.
He humbly preached at Pentecost and saw thousands saved. He was used by God to heal a man, was imprisoned and released by an angel. He was employed in bringing Cornelius to Christ. He opened his faith to accept that the Gentiles are called as much as the Jews.
He was not without fault or failure. He and Paul had contention that needed correction. Yet, the man Peter became was what Christ saw after the devastation that came because of his denial.
To show that same mercy and forgiveness may allow one to become like Peter and do great things for God. May we let the Holy Spirit to guide us in the process of restoration to allow mercy, love, and grace to flow through us.