Grace for Deserters

Yesterday I wrote about feeling betrayed. There’s more to be said. I’m not the truly innocent victim, perfectly holy, betrayed by sinful rebels.

Truth be told, I probably more often the betrayer than the betrayed. I’ve let my friends down far more than they’ve let me down. I am Peter. Boldly declaring my loyalty unto death, faithfully keeping my promise until the first sign of danger.

This is why John chapter 21 is so sweet. Peter, who has denied Jesus 3 times, is given opportunity to re-affirm his love 3 times. And 3 times, Jesus re-commissions him as his disciple and as a Shepherd: “Feed my sheep.” What grace that re-instates Peter!

Not only that, but by grace, Peter will be given a second opportunity to keep his promise and would, with God’s strength, this time succeed.  Jesus promises him that when his old, Peter will stretch out his arms on a cross like Jesus and will die for Jesus, and in so doing glorify God. At first, this sounds like horrible news. He’s going to die on a cross! But this is a tremendous gift. Peter had promised Jesus that he would be faithful unto death, and now by God’s strength he will be.

Peter failed Jesus. But his failure did not define him. He was defined by God’s grace for him in Christ. Jesus responds to Peter’s failure with grace, love, forgiveness, re-instatement and even greater responsibility and mission. The gospel gives grace for deserters like me.