Summary: Peter had failed Jesus by denying him 3 times and Jesus forgives him by allowing him to negate each of tghe three denials. We will fail but when we come to Jesus he will restore us
As I mentioned last Sunday and also on Easter Sunday, John records only four of the Post Resurrection appearances of Jesus.
I think his reason for doing so is that the aim of his book is to awaken faith – and not to be - JUST another historical record of the times of Jesus.
But this does not mean that the Gospel is fiction – far from it – it is historically accurate. The events happened
But it isn’t written to be a history of the beginnings of Christianity
In other words, history impinges on the Gospel of John but unlike St Luke’s Gospel and Acts which were written to give a historical account of the beginnings of Christianity.
John’s Gospel has another aim.
John gives us a clue to his aim in the last two verses of the previous chapter.
St John writes
30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Over the last few weeks we have been looking at barriers to faith
1st Barrier to Faith – Grief
On Easter Sunday, we looked at Mary Magdalene meeting the risen Lord and how a word from the risen Jesus dealt with the barrier she had of grief
2nd and 3rd Barriers to faith – Fear and Doubt
Last Sunday we looked at the other two barriers to faith, fear and doubt.
It was a word from the Risen Lord that broke the barrier of fear for the disciples and a word from Jesus that dealt with the barrier to faith of doubt with Thomas
So how does this post Resurrection appearance fit the criteria of awaking faith?
To answer this I would like to focus on just a few verses of this passage
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
"Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
16 Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
18 Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."
19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"
Jesus reinstates Peter.
And it is this encounter that for me fulfills the criteria of awakening faith.
I would like to suggest three reasons why this post Resurrection appearance fulfills the criteria – and it is to do with the nature of Jesus
1. Jesus offers forgiveness
2. Jesus is realistic about our needs
3. Jesus commissions us from where we are and not from where we are not!
If Peter can fall so far and be reinstated so can we.
The only sin that is unforgivable is the unforgivable sin. Every other sin is forgivable
Story: As a wise old Pastor once said to me:
“If you are worried about committing the unforgivable sin, then you haven’t committed it.”
The first reason this post Resurrection appearance fits the criteria of awaking faith is that
1. Jesus offers forgiveness
The Gospel is a gospel of forgiveness and this episode shows Jesus restoring Peter to fellowship.
On Good Friday Peter denied Jesus three times and wept bitterly. Now Jesus gives Peter the chance to make amends.
In our Gospel reading, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him and Peter answers “Yes I love you.”
But in translation, we miss the nuances
Let me explain: There are four words in Greek that are translated by our word: Love
Agape (???p? agápe):
This is divine, unconditioned love.
It is the unconditional love that we as Christians receive from God as agape love.
Philia (f???a philía):
Philia expresses love and friendship which is "platonic".
The city of Philadelphia - the city of “brotherly love” is derived from the word for love – “philia”
The other two words for love are not important to the story but - for completeness - they are: