John 20:30 – 21:25 Early in the morning
Life after the cross – John 21:15-21
John’s passage about what is known as the restoration of Peter, with Jesus’ thrice repeated question, ‘Do you love me?’ is so familiar that its impact may have become dulled. A great deal is often made of Jesus’ use of agape and fileo, and Peter’s reply of fileo. However, it is possible too much emphasis is put upon this as in common use the two words were often interchangeable and are also applied that way in biblical texts. Great preachers of the past have often emphasized the importance of repeatedly relating biblical passages to the cross of Christ. There is great wisdom in this. It was prior to Jesus’ crucifixion that Peter lost his nerve and denied he knew Jesus. Peter was the man Jesus had said was the rock on which he was to build his church. Mathew 16:18 Jesus, by asking Peter three times if he loved him mirrored Peter’s threefold denial. Following each of Peter’s replies Jesus recommissioned him to nurture and build up the church that was about to be created. Just as Jesus is the Good Shepherd so Peter was to be a shepherd of Jesus’ flock.
Peter’s restoration was only possible because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Jesus himself had taken upon himself Peter’s judgement. Peter would forever carry the wound his denial inflicted upon him, he had been humbled by his own actions, his weakness had been exposed. How could he carry on? Only because of the cross. We know from accounts in Acts that Peter went on to have a powerful and influential ministry. God used Peter on the day of Pentecost to bring thousands to faith in Christ, it was through Peter that God made clear the gospel message was a universal message. The impact of Peter’s ministry remains fundamental to the modern church. Through the bible Peter is feeding Jesus’ sheep. Peter had a profound experience of his own failure but he also knew Jesus’ deep personal forgiveness and the Holy Spirit’s anointing. Peter experienced what has sometimes been termed, being broken at the cross. Because of his weakness he powerfully experienced the resurrection strength and life of Christ in his ministry.
Does that mean that anyone can be forgiven and then restored to their previous ministry regardless of what they have done? No, it does not. You don’t give an alcoholic the keys to the wine cellar. But there is a route to forgiveness and restoration at the foot of the cross. How has the cross of Christ impacted your life?