Peter totally messed up! He said he would stand by Jesus – even die with him if he had to. But then he caved. A few awkward questions after Jesus’ arrest and Peter denied even knowing him – not just once or twice but three times.
We all mess up at times. When I do it I fill my mind with useless questions: “How can he ever trust me again?” “How can I ever change?” “Why can’t I be more like someone else?” I regret the past, despair about the future and compare myself to others.
Jesus ended up dying on the cross after that trial . . . but then people said they saw him alive. Amazing but, even if it was true, could it change anything for Peter? Later on Jesus appeared again while Peter and some others were out fishing. He asked Peter, “Do you love me?” – not just once or twice but three times. It gave Peter an opportunity to correct his messed up past. When Peter said yes Jesus gave him a job: “Feed my sheep.” He still trusted Peter.
Then Jesus looked into the future: “When you are old someone else will lead you where you do not want to go.” It implied something about how Peter would die. Not an easy thing to hear but it told Peter he would change. In the past Peter wasn’t prepared to give his life. In the future he would be.
Finally, Peter pointed to one of Jesus’ other friends. “What about him?” he asked. Was he comparing himself to the others? Jesus responded, “What is that to you? Follow me!”
The next time I mess up; the next time I regret the past, despair about the future or compare myself to others I’ll remember Peter’s last conversation with Jesus. Maybe you will too. (see John 21:1-23 in the Bible).
Jon Wyminga is pastor with Cariboo Presbyterian Church in Nazko.