Focus: True love, compassion, and forgiveness
Proverbs 21:2 (NKJV) Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.
It’s hard to learn from a mistake—if we’re not willing to admit we made one. Not many of us set out to do the wrong thing, when we’re hoping for good results. Most people prefer to have others think they are smart rather than stupid. The same way we hope people will think we make good choices—not bad ones. But as much as we’d like to be right—sometimes we’re just wrong.
There is a very illustrious character in the Bible who is a perfect example of this. He was the first disciple chosen by Jesus and the one we probably know more about than any of the other disciples.
Peter would have easily won ‘drama king’ if there had been a superlative contest among the disciples. In addition, Peter would most likely have been dubbed ‘most outgoing’—as well as ‘most impulsive’, ‘fastest runner’, and ‘most outspoken’. Peter was typically a first responder whenever Jesus asked a question. Even though was eager to answer—his answers often weren’t right—and Jesus had to correct him. In spite of his intentions, Peter didn’t always look as good as he meant to look. Yet, of all the disciples—Peter is the one Jesus called, ‘the rock’…upon which He would build His church.
In their final hours of togetherness before the crucifixion, Peter repeatedly and passionately pledged his allegiance to Jesus in front of the other disciples. A little later, when Jesus was taken into custody—all of the disciples scattered—but it was Peter who denied he even knew Jesus when he was questioned…not once, but three times in that one night.
Peter wanted to be more loyal and faithful than any of the others. He claimed he would stand by Jesus to the death—but when the situation turned ugly—he was just as chicken as the rest.
After Peter’s agony—his blunder becomes the perfect opportunity for Jesus to demonstrate true love, compassion, forgiveness, and restoration.
Within a couple of weeks of the time when Jesus was resurrected, Peter decides to go out fishing. Several of the other disciples decide they’ll go out in the boat with Peter, too. They fish all night and catch nothing. In the early morning light, someone calls from shore and asks if they’ve caught anything. They answer, ‘No’. The person on the shore tells them to try putting their net on the ‘right side’ of the boat. When they do—they aren’t even able to pull the net into the boat because there are so many fish in it. The disciple named John recognizes the voice of the person who has been talking to them from the shore. He says, “It is the Lord”.
With that information, Peter jumps out of the boat and into the water. He heads for shore as fast as he can go. He doesn’t want to be slowed down by the fish in the net and time it would take to get to shore in the boat. When the others arrive, they all discover that Jesus has prepared fresh bread and fish for them to eat.
After breakfast, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times. I like to think Jesus is giving Peter three chances to say he loves Him—to equal the number of times Peter had said he didn’t know Jesus before the crucifixion. Each time Peter says ‘Yes’, Jesus gives him an assignment. The assignments are, “Feed my lambs, Take care of my sheep, and Feed my sheep”.
By doing these things, Jesus is letting Peter know he is restored. He is giving Peter another chance to prove himself. Most importantly, Jesus is letting Peter know He hasn’t given up on him. He still wants Peter to build His church. He wants Peter to shepherd the new converts through to maturity in their faith. A long-term task and a real challenge for someone as impetuous as Peter.
Thirty or so years after Jesus ascended back into heaven—Peter had done a lot of preaching and suffering for his faith. He wrote some important letters to some of the followers of Christ he had shepherded—letters that are now considered ‘holy scripture’. In part of one letter, Peter encouraged people to be ‘patient and self-controlled’—admitting that someone who lacks these virtues is shortsighted and like someone who is blind.
Peter had to learn a lot of things the hard way. Although he messed up frequently when he was younger—Peter finished well. At the end of his life, he didn’t deny he knew Jesus—in fact, he was martyred for his faith.
Declaration: I will find new strength by following the instructions of Peter in 2 Peter chapter one. By exercising patience and self-control, I will make fewer mistakes. When I do make a mistake, I will be willing to admit I’ve been wrong and learn from it…and draw from the true love, compassion, forgiveness and restoration of the Lord.
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