Redemption. It may be one of my favorite parts of being a follower of Christ. I know it’s definitely one of the things that gives me hope. As a Christian, I firmly believe nothing is too bad to be forgiven. Nothing.
We get a picture of this in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, but also in how He interacts with Peter.
Let me introduce you to Peter. When we first meet him, he’s catching fish. Then Peter meets Jesus, and Peter immediately begins to follow Him. He’s pretty impulsive, Peter. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, Peter seems to get himself in trouble by opening his mouth and at times failing to see the bigger picture. (Are you realizing why Peter is my favorite?)
At the end of Jesus’ life, after traveling around with him, and being part of his inner circle for years, Peter betrays Jesus. In fulfillment of prophesy. But also because he’s afraid. Most times we hurt people, it’s out of fear, right?
So Jesus dies, rises again, and Peter goes back to fishing. Yes, he returns to his original life. Probably out of shame and uncertainty; he tries to go back to the life he was living before. Even though he know’s there’s a better life for him. At this point, you’re probably wondering why this is a in a series on friendship. Hold on, I’m going to get there.
Jesus, back from the dead, meets Peter and some of the disciples on the shore. Remember Peter was back to being a fisherman. Performing yet another miracle, Jesus provides those on the boat “an amount of fish so great that they couldn’t haul in their nets,” (John 21:6). They head back to land and eat fish with Jesus.
Then Jesus does something special for Peter. He says to Peter, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter responds, “Yes, Lord, you know that I do.” Jesus proceeds to ask the question three more times. Which is the exact number of times that Peter denied Him earlier in the story. In essence, Jesus gives Peter a re-do.
Jesus comes back from the dead, to demonstrate that God has power over the dead, and while He’s at it, He restores Peter to right relationship with Him.
But He doesn’t stop there. Jesus gives Peter a mission to feed His sheep. The subtext in this command is Jesus saying to Peter, “Remember I changed your life? Don’t go back to fishing. I called you to care for my people. So do it!”
There’s a whole lot more going on in this story that I love, and I’ve written about it before, but truly, it’s a story of forgiveness, restoration and redemption through relationship.
Peter has abandoned Jesus. Peter went back to doing what he was doing before.
Jesus comes to Peter right where he’s at, even though it’s in a place of disobedience.
Jesus gives Peter the opportunity to make the situation right again.
Jesus reminds Peter of who he is. Jesus puts Peter back on mission.
Peter went on to be a major player in early Christianity. He is the author of several books in the New Testament including 1 Peter, a letter written to Christian exiles who were experiencing persecution. He was eventually crucified for his faith. His words and life have inspired countless people to persevere in their faith, especially in seasons of oppression.
All because his friend (and Lord) Jesus called him to something more. More than fishing. Again and again. Even when Peter failed to live up to the calling, and betrayed Him; Jesus restored him.
Jesus calls all to come and follow Him. He invites us all onto His mission in unique ways, specific to who we are. Just like Peter, He promises that by the time He’s done with us, we’ll be different people with a new calling.
This is the power of friendship. To meet people in their darkest moments, to wade into their shame, remind them of who they are, and set them back on mission.