Posted by: pmarkrobb | July 27, 2017

asked intentionally three times

In reading this week, i was reminded of a story that is one of my favorites in all of the Bible.  It’s central character is the one i most see in myself.  i would guess there are many who would/could say the same.  Peter was a glorious mess.  In his sold-out self, he was everything we desire to be in following Jesus.  In his broken self, he was everything we can immediately relate with.  In his most visible failure we see every well-meaning, yet broken promise we’ve ever made to God.  “Even if all fall away, I will not,” Peter said. (Mark 14:29)  And in the very next verse, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”  i can feel the immense weight of those moments and words with every fiber of my being.

As darkness blankets Golgotha, the curtain in the temple tears in two, the earth violently rumbles and shakes, and the last breath leaves the lips of our Savior, we expect it to be as He shouted … It is finished!  Jesus took the incalculable weight of the sins of all for all time on His own body and died as their only ransom.  Sin’s power — and Peter’s wretched denial — they are over!  It is finished.

Yet this is nowhere near the end of Peter’s, Jesus’, or our story.  Jesus died and was buried, yes, but He rose again and He lives!!  In His rising, Jesus broke the power of death.  In His rising, He completed the work of redemption and its glorious gift of life.  In His rising, He erased the period at the end of Peter’s story.  Peter denied, the rooster crowed, and Satan began the work of locking Peter up in the prison of that single sin.  But there was more story to be written, and very soon the angels would begin it again as they announced Jesus’ resurrection to the women who had gathered at His tomb.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Mark 16:6-7

Whom should they tell?  “… go, tell his disciples and Peter.”  In the immediate aftermath of Peter’s denial, God began the work of pursuing and restoring him.  It was no random detail or flippant mention by the angels, it was an intentional and purposeful step by the God of the Universe in Peter’s direction.  And God wasn’t finished yet.  Jesus appears to His disciples several times after His resurrection and before He ascended into heaven.  On one of those occasions, He specifically turned to Peter and asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter quickly answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  Jesus asked again, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter answered once again with the same words.  Then Jesus asks a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  This time Peter seems a bit injured, but answers “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” (Conversation from John 21:15-17)

Was Jesus looking to make sure Peter loved Him?  Was His deliberate repeat an attempt to make an example of Him?  i am certain Jesus did not need assurance, but i do believe an example was part of the point.  Asked intentionally three times, this was a powerful and meaningful statement to Peter … and to us all.  Jesus sees through to the very heart of Peter and knows the hole which remains from his devastating denial.  In the intentional asking, Jesus heals the hole, restores Peter and invites him to “follow me!”  A broken servant, a healing Savior … what a perfect picture of who we are, and who He is.

For me, there is no more notable or enduring story when i think on the person of Peter.  Whenever i recall it, the countless instances of God’s forgiveness and restoration in my own life are replayed.  i am reminded of how deeply Jesus loves me (and you).  Praise God that Peter’s story is also my own.  May we never forget how beautifully and bountifully Jesus loves, forgives, grants grace and restores.  He leaves the 99 to go searching for the one who is lost.  He asks intentionally three times.  He sees the holes which need healing.  He knows us and calls us by name.


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