John 21:15-17 is one of my favorite passages.
Jesus is alive and well after his crucifixion. He conquered death and Hell!
He reveals himself to the disciples in a way that is very familiar. He tells them to cast the nets and they catch many fish. They finally realize who he is.
Flash back to chapter 18. Peter denies Jesus. He does not associate with him when asked if he was one of his disciples. He hears the rooster crow and then goes out and “wept bitterly”. What kind of friend was he? What had he done?
Would this be the end for him? Would he ever truly follow God again?
This is where 21:15-17 is so beautiful.
Jesus asks him three times if he loves him. And Peter says yes each time. No doubt I believe he did love him. He was at that moment experiencing the astounding grace of Jesus.
Jesus was reminding him of his mission. To “catch people” or evangelize and to “feed the sheep” or pastor/lead the church.
Think about this. Jesus came to them even though they had pretty much forgotten what he had told them. Jesus didn’t give up on them. He didn’t give up on Peter.
Think of how much Peter blew it. Some may say he didn’t deserve a second chance.
Sadly, I can relate with Peter. I am Peter.
I gave my life to Jesus yet many times have denied him, turned my back, chose my own way, and betrayed him. And I have wept bitterly. But Jesus has never left me or given up. In fact, he has remained constant. And that overwhelms me.
Our ministries are full of students who don’t think God even cares or they feel as though they have gone too far. They are overwhelmed with guilt. They don’t fit in.
We MUST preach grace and show grace. We must teach leaders and volunteers to never give up on the students who seem to be gone and hopeless. Or stop fighting for the lonely and broken. God WILL work and move!
God most definitely gives way beyond second chances. His love never fails or gives up!
Matthew Sawyer is the student pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Dothan, AL. (www.sbcdothan.org) Matthew writes his own blog at: http://matthewls.com/