Jonathan's Perspective  

Apr 3

'Freed for a New Future'

Throughout my ministry I have had people ask me if they thought God could ever forgive them.  They had done something terribly wrong - infidelity, horrible acts of racism, even murder.  Have you done something that you feel so terrible about that you wonder if God could ever forgive you?  Do you have guilt burning within you, and you are afraid to admit it?  To be honest, most of us have something that we just can't confess.  It is too painful. 

Imagine what it was like for Peter to see the risen Lord after his betrayals.  Peter was supposed to be the strong one of the twelve.  He was 'The Rock'!  Peter had seen miraculous catches of fish, healings, casting out of demons, and changed lives as people repented and were baptized.  Peter walked on water, and was the first to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah!  He was with Jesus at the transfiguration.  He saw Moses and Elijah, and heard the voice of God.

Yet, when push came to shove, Peter deeply betrayed Jesus. Twice Peter fell asleep after Jesus implored him to pray with him in Garden.  When the Temple guards seized Jesus, Peter took off like a frightened rabbit.  However, Peter followed the crowd to the courtyard of Caiaphas the High Priest.  The trial of Jesus began there, and Peter wanted to see if Jesus would be set free.  Peter found a position where he could see Jesus.  A servant girl said, 'You also were with Jesus of Galilea.'  But Peter responded, 'I don't know what you are talking about.'  Peter, keeping an eye on Jesus, moved to the gate.  A girl told those around him that, 'This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.'  Peter's betrayal intensified, 'I don't know the man!'  Finally, several men came up to him saying, 'Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.'  Peter called down curses and said, 'I don't know the man!!!'  Just then a rooster crowed, and Jesus caught Peter's eye from across the courtyard.  Peter couldn't believe what he had done, and went away weeping, sobbing uncontrollably.

When Jesus first met the disciples, Peter was there, but nothing is said of him.  It is not until later, when Peter was doing therapeutic fishing to reflect and decompress from all that had happened that Jesus came along and told them to throw their net on the other side.  When a great haul of fish was taken, Peter dove in the water and swam to shore.  After eating with the disciples, Jesus called Peter to a private conversation they needed to have. 

When you have been called out for something you have done, what was expected?  Probably to grovel, show appropriate remorse, and promise to never do it again.  Jesus took a different route.  He asked Peter, 'Do you love me?'  I imagine that Peter was quite exasperated when he had to try to convince Jesus that he really did love him.  Jesus must have smiled at Peter after he had asked him the third time and said, 'I know.'  Then he told Peter he had a job for him to do: 'Feed my sheep.'  All Jesus wanted to hear was Peter's proclamation of love so that Peter could be freed from the grip of guilt and shame.  Only after that could Peter begin to do great things for Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

Perhaps that is what we need to do - wallow in Jesus' love rather than our sin!  Jesus doesn't hold things against you as much as you do.  I'm not saying that our sin is trivial, but that God's love through Jesus is so much greater.  I encourage you this Easter season to profess again your love for Jesus.  That way you can be freed from the past, so that you can be freed for a new future in the Lord.

Seeking Life that is Truly Life,

Jonathan

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