In-person worship services will be held as scheduled this Sunday. Please use discretion when determining whether roads are safe for your personal travel.
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7 Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.”
15 When they finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 He asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 I assure you that when you were younger you tied your own belt and walked around wherever you wanted. When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and another will tie your belt and lead you where you don’t want to go.” 19 He said this to show the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. After saying this, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.”
In Mark 14:29, Peter boldly told Jesus, “Even if everyone else stumbles, I won’t.” Just hours later, three times he swore he didn’t know Jesus (John 18:15-27). Jesus didn’t want that failure to haunt the rest of Peter’s life. Mark 16:7 made it clear that Jesus wanted Peter (“especially”) to know he was still one of “his disciples.” In John 21 we see that he asked Peter to affirm his love three times, deeper and more solid because he knew Jesus forgave him even when he had failed.
Lord Jesus, like Peter, I love you. Like Peter, I sometimes fail you. Thank you for always drawing me to you and welcoming me back, like Peter, and for calling me to live your love more and more to all I meet. Amen.
We Kansas City Chiefs fans have become pretty spoiled by all of the incredible comebacks the past few years, be it the 24-point rally against the Texans, the 13-second comeback against the Bills, or the recent 10-point rebound against the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII.
However, today’s passage is the culmination of the greatest comeback in human history, a rally so amazing that around 900 A.D. Pope Nicholas 1 ordered that the top of every church’s steeple should be adorned with this story’s symbol. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s imagine how this comeback’s play-by-play might go:
Announcer-Jim: (Hushed Tones) Good evening, friends. We are in the Upper Room where Jesus is hosting a Passover meal. Jesus predicts that His Disciples will desert him. Peter declares that he won’t. Jesus replies that before the rooster crows, Peter will deny Him 3 times.
Analyst-Tony: This is typical Peter: bold & courageous.
Announcer-Jim: Let’s go to our on-the-field reporter, Grace. What do you see?
Reporter-Grace: The mood is quite somber. Usually, a Seder meal is a festive meal of laughter & remembrances of God’s incredible story–a very different scene tonight, Jim.
This portion of the broadcast is brought to you by the movie, “Pirates of the Mediterranean: Searching for the Treasure of the Copper Scroll”–See it in theaters today.
Announcer-Jim: We have moved forward in the evening to the courtyard of the High Priest, Caiphas. Jesus has been arrested & is being held in a dungeon/pit. Peter is amongst a crowd of onlookers. A servant girl asks Peter if he was one of Jesus’ friends. Peter says no. Another servant girl asks Peter the same question. Peter again says no. A bystander hears Peter talking & recognizes the Galilean dialect & asks if Peter wasn’t a friend of that other Galilean, Jesus. Peter denies Christ. A rooster crows & Peter, fully realizing what he had just done, breaks down in tears. Oh, my. This is a huge fumble on the biggest stage of Peter’s life.
Analyst-Tony: Absolutely. I DO have some empathy for Peter. Remember, he did boldly go into the courtyard to be near Jesus, while most of the other Disciples escaped. Further, Peter, rightfully fearing for his own safety, could have fled after the 1st girl questioned him; but he remained. On the other hand, the authorities weren’t interrogating him when he denied Christ–just bystanders.
Reporter-Grace: If I may interject, Jim. Only one person can be the source of this mortifying failure: Peter, himself.
Analyst-Tony: I don’t see how Peter recovers from this. There is nothing Peter can say or do to possibly get back into game now. Sadly, this one is over.
This portion of the broadcast is brought to you by the restaurant–Kidron Fried Chicken (KFC) – Try the new Falafel in a Bowl today!
Announcer-Jim: Now we move forward several days, post-Resurrection. Peter & a few of the Disciples have spent the night fishing. As the boat gets closer to shore, John recognizes the man on the beach. It is Jesus. Peter impulsively jumps in the water, & rushes to the beach. (Squealing) Tonnnnneeeeeee…
Analyst-Tony: This is a Hail Mary, Jim. Jesus is going to really vent His wrath at Peter.
Announcer-Jim: Wait. Jesus is preparing a breakfast for the Disciples. Including Peter. What a turn of events! After the breakfast, Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loves Him. Peter responds yes each time. Peter is told to care for His sheep. Peter is back! This is one for the ages.
Analyst-Tony: I can’t believe what we just saw. Each one of Peter’s 3 denials is completely & permanently erased by the forgiveness of Jesus. This assures Peter (& us 2,000 years later) that the sins & mistakes of the past have been wiped clean by Christ’s love & grace. This scene is essential to the faith walk of every single believer.
Announcer-Jim: This reminds me of that Prodigal Son story we heard two seasons ago. THIS is why Peter shared the most shameful story of his life, because he so desperately wanted future believers to know of God’s infinite love & forgiveness. If Jesus could forgive Peter, imagine what He would do for us? Any last thoughts, Grace?
Reporter-Grace: Jim, this is why the Pope ordered that a rooster be placed on the steeple of each church. To remind believers of this story of redemption & restoration & to emphasize that no one can ever stray beyond the love & compassion of Christ.
Announcer-Jim: That IS amazing, Grace.
We now join an episode of NCIS-Jericho, already in progress.
* N. T. Wright, John for Everyone, part 2. (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004, p. 164.)