I have often wondered about Peter, the head disciple.
I visited Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Rome last year.
It was impressive.
But Peter the fisherman was far less impressive, particularly at the first Easter.
He denied Christ: not once, or twice, but three times.
How could he do that after three years of learning and loyalty, while the small band of disciples followed Jesus around in the desert?
After the rooster crowed, Peter ran away and wept bitterly.
Then there was a resurrection, and Jesus was alive again.
There are six recorded appearances by Jesus after this….before he left the earth.
None of them mention the encounter between Peter and Jesus.
It may have gone down like this:
“Peter, I would like to talk with you”.
“No no. I have failed. I let you down at the critical time. Just leave me alone”.
“I know. But you have to understand grace and forgiveness. Remember the woman caught in adultery?”
“I’ve sinned too bad to be forgiven”.
“Rubbish. You just don’t appreciate how much God loves you, and how valuable you are to him. Your relationship to God is grace-based not performance-based”.
“What does that mean?”
“Essentially, all folks tend to sin. But God restores his followers through grace, rather than their own efforts. We just have to accept that and believe it”.
It slowly sank in. Peter began to believe it, and forgiveness came. Peter was restored, and became the leader of the new church which transformed the world.
I haven’t sinned as greatly as Peter did, thank heaven, but I can be restored as quickly as Peter did, by understanding grace. It’s very liberating.