"-- If the resurrection of Jesus is about anything, it is the mother of all do-overs. It is the control-alt-delete of history. The first man God ever made, Adam, sinned by rebelling against God - Jesus is the do-over, and led a sinless life. The cross represents the worst thing that could happen; we kill our creator. Jesus is the do-over. God uses his death to be the means to our forgiveness, uses it for good. The cross ends in death, but on Easter morning, Jesus is the do-over when he rises from the dead, showing that God can conquer even the grave. Easter is a cosmic do-over.
-- That`s what Jesus is trying to get across to Peter in this story that we just read. Peter had blown it big time. For three years Peter had been Jesus` right hand man. For three years Peter had seen Jesus do amazing miracles. Jesus had even given him a new name, switching his name from Simon to Peter, which means the rock. For three years Jesus had been there for Peter. When Peter`s mother-in-law was sick, it was Jesus who healed her. When Peter was in a small boat being pounded by a storm, it was Jesus who came along and taught him how to walk on water. When Peter began to sink, Jesus lifted him up. At every turn Jesus had loved Peter, invested in Peter, and had been there for Peter. Then, the one moment when Jesus needed Peter, under pressure Peter caved like a house of cards and not only refused to help Jesus, but even pretended he didn`t know his best friend. Not once, not twice, but three times Peter denied knowing Jesus. Peter had blown it in a major way. And even though Jesus had been raised from the dead and Peter had already seen him twice, and even though Jesus said that his death paid the penalty for every wrong thing we have ever done, Peter still did not believe that all that talk about grace, forgiveness, and second chances were for him. Grace was for everybody else, Peter thought, but not for him because he had blown it so badly. He was a loser, and there are no second chances for losers.
-- And so he says one of the most heartbreaking lines in the Bible: "I`m going fishing." That is the loneliest line in scripture. Peter is saying: I didn`t do this disciple thing right, I`ve let down my best friend, I failed at this, this party isn`t for me. I`m going fishing, back to what I know, back to what is comfortable. I give up. I`m a loser. Ever do that? You hurt a friend and you think: There`s no way this relationship can ever be repaired, so I`m not even going to try, you toss in the towel. I`m going fishing. Or your marriage goes stale and you say: That`s it, this marriage has no hope at all, I`m giving up, I`m going fishing. You get laid off or fail at a project, and you think to yourself: I`m a pretender; everybody`s going to find out - I might as well stop trying, I`m going fishing.
-- That`s what is going on for Peter. Just a few hours before he denied Jesus, he had such big words. He said, "Jesus, I`ll never leave you. These other disciples might leave you, the worthless lot. Just look at them, but not me, Jesus, what you don`t understand is: I`m your boy. You stick with me Jesus, I`ll take you places." That was Peter, always bragging, always talking. And Jesus said, "Simon, Simon." ''He had to say his name twice, because Peter wouldn`t shut up.'' "Simon, Simon, you`re going to deny me three times." And he did. So now Peter is embarrassed, he`s depressed. He`s feeling like he`s been found out to be a pretender and a poser. If he could have taken any one moment of his life back, it would have been the moment when for the third time he said about his best friend: I don`t know the man. If ever anyone needed a do-over, it was Peter.
-- What is so compelling about Jesus? What makes him so different than any other religious figure is that because of Jesus` death and resurrection, we all get a do-over. The resurrection shows us that there are no dead ends, and even the worst thing can be turned around and used for good. Jesus shows that to Peter and to us in a couple of ways. The first way Jesus gives us a do-over is:
1) Jesus forgives us and wipes the slate clean. That is what Jesus is trying to show Peter in this story. He doesn`t want Peter to just know it in his head, he wants Peter to believe it in his heart. So he takes Peter through a reenactment of their entire three-year friendship. They met three years earlier when Peter had been fishing all night ''a very similar scene'' and had not caught anything. But then Jesus provides a miraculous catch of fish. Jesus reenacts that in this story. Yet again, Peter and his friends have been fishing all night and haven`t caught anything. ''These guys are my kind of fishermen, I want to go fishing with them, I would feel like I was the man if I even caught one.'' That`s what happens when we give up in despair and just seek our own comfort - we come up empty handed. But then Jesus shows up and they catch a bunch of fish. It`s a do-over. It`s a re-enactment of how Peter and Jesus first met, and it`s Jesus saying to Peter, "I know you`ve blown it, but I love you and we`re still friends." It`s a do-over.
-- When Peter sees Jesus on the shore, he jumps in the water and swims to Jesus. I love that. It shows how excited Peter was to see Jesus. Meanwhile, however, the other disciples have to row all the fish back to shore. I wonder how they felt about that. That`s life " there are jumpers and there are rowers " people who jump in and people who do all the work. In our family, I`m the jumper. I say, "Let`s go on vacation." And my wife packs the suitcases, makes the travel arrangements, and gets the kids ready - jumpers and rowers. Peter was a jumper, but Jesus loves him anyway. Then when Peter gets to the shore, Jesus re-enacts the last time he and Peter talked before Jesus died. It was the last supper where Jesus presided over a meal. So in this story, Jesus presides over another meal. After the last supper, Peter went out and denied Jesus three times. So after this meal, Jesus gives Peter a second chance "a do-over "a mulligan. He asks him three times, "Do you love me, Peter?" which parallels the three times Peter denied him. Peter gets a chance to do it all over again, only this time the right way. He gets to say three times, "Lord I love you, I love you, I love you." His denials are erased and replaced with the grace of God. It`s a do-over. It`s Jesus saying, I forgive you, and I have wiped the slate clean.
-- That`s good news. If it had stopped there, I`m sure Peter would have felt forgiven. He would have been filled with joy because he was reconciled with his best friend, but Jesus goes one step further. Not only does he forgive Peter, but he goes on to show Peter that he still has confidence in him. He says to Peter, "Feed my sheep, tend my flock, feed my lambs." In other words, he gives Peter a job to do. Not only does Jesus forgive Peter and wipe the slate clean, but gives him a do-over.
2) Jesus always gives us a second chance. By telling Peter to go back to the work of ministry, Jesus is saying to Peter, "I still have confidence in you. I know you think you have blown it beyond repair, I know you think that because you`ve messed up you have no worth, no value, nothing to offer. I know you think you`re a poser and a pretender. But I once called you the rock upon which I would build my church, and that hasn`t changed. You are still that rock. You are still my man, Peter, you are still my man. You are not a pretender. You are not a poser. You are a mighty warrior. Now get out there and get back in the game because I`m not giving up on you, so you don`t give up on you either."
-- You see, Jesus doesn`t just forgive Peter, he says, you still have something to offer. He gives him a second chance, a do-over. You see, with Jesus, failing doesn`t mean you`re a failure. In God`s eyes we are never failures. We don`t think of Thomas Edison as a failure, even though it took him 900 tries to get the light bulb right. We don`t think J.K. Rowling is a failure because it took her thirty tries to get Harry Potter published. Thirty tries, but we don`t think she`s a failure because of that. ''Maybe the editors who rejected the book " they`re failures, and unemployed most likely, but not J.K. Rowling.'' In the same way, Jesus does not look at us as failures, even though we blow it from time to time. Peter has spent three years learning to believe in Jesus, but what he discovers is how much Jesus believes in him.
-- That`s what Easter is all about. It`s never too late. It`s never over. If we know Jesus, every sin we`ve sinned, every way we`ve blown it, every failure, were all nailed to the cross with Jesus, and when he died they died with him, and he took those things to the grave with him. But when he rose, he rose up empty-handed, and left those things in the grave where they belong. If you know Jesus, then your sins, your failures, your insecurities, the ways you`ve been hurt, the ways you`ve hurt others, the horrible things that have been said to you, and the ways you`ve blown it - they are dead. Jesus rose, but those things did not. They stayed in the tomb. They are behind you. They can`t find you. They won`t haunt you. They can`t control you. God has buried them on the bottom of the ocean floor. The slate has been wiped clean. Not only are you forgiven, but if you know Jesus he gives you a second, and a third, and a fourth chance, however many you need, until you get it right.
By: Scott Dudley
Category: Final Week of Jesus