Who is it? Surely not me! That was the thought on everyone’s mind.
“His disciples stared at one another, at a loss…”
It was a troubling statement. Peter asked John to ask Jesus who it was.
“It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread.”
Jesus told them plainly, but they didn’t get it. Perhaps because he had spoken so often parabolically. So the question lingered in the air.
Then Jesus told them he was going away to a place where they couldn’t come yet. Peter asked why, swearing he would lay down his life for him.
Then Jesus said the words that stopped the proud man cold:
“I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!”
Was it him? Was he the betrayer? Jesus just said he would disown him. Peter shut up.
And then it came down. Judas betrayed Jesus for money. And Peter, the bold fisherman, disowned Jesus from fear. Even all the other disciples would run away, one of them even naked.
But what marked their journey was not how what they did, but how they responded.
Judas hung himself.
The disciples who had run away returned.
Jesus knew Judas and Peter and his disciples would turn tail in the difficult hour but he loved them anyway. He not only loved them but he restored them. Judas was in the grave with guilt so there wasn’t anything left to do. For the disciples that had run away he appeared to them and broke bread (and fish) with them, a sign of restoration. And for Peter he had a special message,
“Go tell the disciples…and Peter” about my resurrection. (Emphasis mine)
God is extraordinarily good. He’s the God of restoration. The question is not that we will fail as we will. But where do we go when we fail. Do we try to pick ourselves up by our own bootstraps? Or do we run to Jesus in repentance.
After Jesus was killed Peter had gone back to fishing for a bit. He was on the lake when a man told him to throw over to the other side of the boat. He caught a large number of fish. It was the second time in his life this miracle would happen. And he knew who it was. He donned his clothes and jumped into the lake, swimming frantically toward a reunion. It was sweet. But then there was the moment of truth.
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?”
Love redefined. Another reality barb to the heart.
“Do you love me?”
Peter couldn’t take it anymore.
“Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
“Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
A recognition of truth. Yet with a mission restored. Just stripped of the pride.
It’s the sweetness of failure.