1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
21:1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
15 When 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.”16 He 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.”17 He 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.18 Truly, 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.”
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright (c)2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. http://www.esv.org
As we worshiped together on Sunday, we explored the question “Who was Peter?” We looked at Peter through the windows of faith, failure, forgiveness, and future glory. As we reflect on the love of Christ in restoring Peter, let’s explore two aspects of God’s forgiveness.
Peter was the outspoken leader of the Twelve. He made a grand confession and witnessed great miracles. He made big promises, but on that fateful night, by a charcoal fire, Peter repeatedly denied even knowing Jesus. Under pressure, the rock cracked. What would Peter do? Where would he go? John 21 reminds us of the source of forgiveness. The passage illustrates, not just how we respond to our failures, but how Jesus does. The risen Christ goes looking for Peter and finds him where He originally found him: in a boat fishing. Seeing Jesus, Peter abandons a miraculous catch of fish (and a perfectly good boat) and jumps into the water to swim toward his Lord. Peter’s plunge reminds us: if we have faith in Jesus, not even our greatest failures should keep us from running toward the One who ran toward us. When we fail, do we remember that Jesus Christ is the only source of forgiveness? Can we say, as Peter did on another occasion, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68)? Where else to do we go looking for the forgiveness that is found in Christ alone?
The passage also reminds us of the setting of forgiveness. When Peter makes it to shore, he discovers that Jesus has prepared a charcoal fire. The setting would surely take him back to his moment of shameful failure. This might seem like a cruel reenactment, but the Lord takes us through the pain of our sin—not around it—to experience His forgiveness. Jesus, who delights to eat with His weary, failing sojourners, transforms the setting from a fire of failure to a fire of fellowship. He meets us in our frailty and transforms our failures into moments of forgiveness that grow our faith. When we fail, do we realize that the setting of our sin is the very place where the Lord intends to meet us with His life-transforming grace?
As sojourners, the Lord is teaching us that He often does His most amazing work when we fail. Our sin can humble us, but a sweeter humility comes when we are humbled by the grace of God. The forgiveness of Christ teaches Peter to shift his confidence from his undying love for Jesus to Jesus’ dying love for him. The love of Jesus redefines and recommissions Peter for the road ahead. As Brent reminded us on Sunday, “Failures will lead to future glory if faith and forgiveness have their way with us.” As we consider our failures—past, present, and future—what would it look like for faith and forgiveness to have their way with us?