Summary: This sermon focuses on Peter and forgiveness
Peter stood tall among the disciples. He was one of Jesus closest friends and everyone knew it. While they sat at the table, Jesus began to describe the hard road he was about to face. In a moment that must have been very difficult for Jesus. He looks out at his disciples, his closest friends and followers and says to them, that they would all dessert him when the hard times came. Peter was quick to jump to his feet and I can imagine with a loud boisterous shout, Peter proclaims, even if all of them dessert you and betray you, I will never, I will die before that happens.
Jesus quickly and gently looks eye ball to eyeball with Peter and says, Oh, Peter, before the sun rises before the rooster crows, you will deny that you even know me three times… Peter incredibly puzzled sits down.
A few hours later you know the story Jesus is arrested. His disciples run away. Peter and probably John go to the courtyard where Jesus is beginning to be put on trial. The crowd is a buzz. Peter’s mind is numb. His thoughts are racing. The crowd that once was praising Jesus had know turned… They waited with morbid curiosity to see what happened.
In the midst of the crowd someone turns to Peter hearing his accent says Hey you are from Galilee. Aren’t you a follower of that man? The words rush out of Peter’s mouth, No I have never met him. Two others ask the same question. With each question, Peter’s anger rose hotter and hotter… Until in response to the third question Peter curses and swears… He does not know that man. At that moment The dawn broke… The rooster crowed… And Jesus once more locked eyeballs with Peter… Peter coming to his senses… Realizing what he has done runs away… sobbing and weeping… Angry at himself…Feeling a sense of hopelessness and loss.
Each of us… If we are honest… have been where Peter was? A mistake… A poor Choice…words said …actions done… And for the Believer… the one who is in relationship with Jesus… Just like Peter, immediately after the sin we come to our senses and are filled with remorse and regret…
Garrison Keillor who is the host of the Prairie Home Companion on Public Radio tells a story of a man in Lake Wobegon who was saved 12 times at the altar of a Lutheran church that never gave altar calls. He would come to the altar time after time and weep buckets and buckets of tears and come back the next Sunday and do the very same thing. Larry Sorensen kept repenting and repenting but somehow he couldn’t get beyond the repenting stage. Pretty soon even the “fundamentalists got tired of him.” Larry couldn’t believe that Jesus could totally forgive him; and the guilt of all he had done caused him to be unable to forgive himself. Instead of being free to move on, he came to church week after week constantly feeling guilty and trying to get back on track over and over again.
So what do we do? How do we move on when we have failed? How do we forgive ourselves? How do we let go of our shame, guilt, and regret?
As always it begins with Jesus, a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 21 beginning in verse 1.
As we walk through the steps necessary to forgive ourselves we must keep in mind something that a man trying the cross a local main street was reminded.
As the man stepped off the curb a car came screaming around the corner and headed straight for him. The man walked faster, trying to hurry across the street, but the car changed lanes and still came at him.
So the guy turned around to go back, but the car changed lanes again and still came at him. By now, the car was so close and the man was so scared that
he just froze and stops in the middle of the road. The car gets real close, then swerves at the last possible moment and screeches to a halt. Right next him.
The driver rolls down the window. The driver is a squirrel. And the squirrel says to the man,
"See, it’s not as easy as it looks, is it?"
When it comes to letting go of our guilt and our shame and choosing to forgive, it is not easy. In fact apart from Jesus it is practically impossible. So again the question who do we do it?
The first step is realizing that Jesus is still there.
In the midst of Peter’s failure, betraying his Lord, Peter returned to the only thing he knew- Fishing.