Summary: Peter feels like a useless failure but Jesus restores him not only to his good graces, but to useful service.
The Restoration of Peter
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
Peter, Peter, impulsive, outspoken, direct in speech and action.
- One of the first of Jesus’ disciples.
- Left his fishing trade to become a fisher of men.
- Walked on water by faith until he became fearful and began to sink, and Jesus lifted him up and they walked together to the boat.
- Confessed his conviction that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of God.
- Witnessed, with James and John, the transfiguration of Jesus on the mount, with Moses and Elijah,
- Was so confident of his bravery, said he’d follow Jesus to the death.
-Tried to lop off the head of a servant of the chief priest who had come with the temple police to arrest Jesus.
- Then, with Jesus on trial, denied he even knew Jesus. Not once, but three times, the last with an oath.
- When the rooster crowed twice as Jesus had said, he recognized what he had done, and went out and wept bitterly.
Peter. Poor Peter. Once the chief disciple, destined for greatness, now a cowardly denier of his Lord.
As far as we know, he was not at the crucifixion itself.
But he knew about it, and was profoundly guilt-ridden that he had been no better than Judas the betrayer.
All of the disciples were thoroughly disillusioned and devastated that Jesus did not fight and overcome the corrupt Roman government and establish God’s kingdom by the miraculous power he demonstrated in his ministry.
He had submitted willingly, like a sheep to the slaughter, and been killed just like other pretenders to the throne of David. He was not the messiah after all. They had wasted 3 ½ years of their lives for a cause that came to an end.
They had all left profitable positions and given their lives to one day be the principles of the new Kingdom. Now the disappointment was overwhelming.
When the women who had gone to the tomb early Sunday morning came running to say Jesus’ body was gone, they were bewildered and didn’t believe them.
But Peter, bless his heart, ran to see, and found it true, Jesus’ grave clothes lying where he had lain, but empty except for the 100 pounds of expensive ointments and spices that formed part of the empty wrappings.
Jesus’ body gone! Could it be? Could he have risen as he said he would? Could he be the Messiah after all, the Son of God as he had believed?
That would be wonderful. Marvelous. Exciting, Thrilling.
The Kingdom established after all. Jesus the King, Alive.
But Peter? Who denied Jesus 3 times? The Benedict Arnold of his time? He’s not worthy to be a disciple. He may not be worthy of life itself, but he’s not going to end it in more shame yet, like Judas had done.
He’s thrown it all overboard, disqualified himself. He hated himself for what he had done, and he’s useless to Jesus.
But not entirely useless. He still knows how to fish. He’s got nothing better to do now but to go fishing.
So here they are, eating the fish Jesus had prepared.
Here’s Jesus, serving them, just like he did at the last supper.
Here’s Peter, ashamed, eating his fish and bread, waiting for Jesus to express how disappointed he is in Peter. He’s imagining how Jesus, who threw out the money changers and animal sellers from the temple, is going to make him feel lower than a snake on the ground.
Then Jesus turns to him and says, Peter, do you love me? Not once, but three times the same question. Peter do you love me?
How would you feel? Peter was grieved that he asked him the third time.
Don’t you believe me Lord? I’ve said it twice.
Do you love Jesus?
It’s so easy to say yes, of course I love Jesus. I’ve always loved Jesus.
But do you LOVE him? Does he have any reason to believe you when you say you do? Does he have any reason to doubt your love?
Peter thought he loved Jesus enough to die for him or with him, enough to kill for him.
But when the test came, he chickened out. He not only denied Jesus, he denied his own love.
You SAY you love Jesus, but how do you show it?