Today's Lectionary Text
1 Peter 1:13-15, 22-23
Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct;
It’s debatable whether or not the Apostle Peter wrote the Petrine letters. Regardless of where one stands on this debate, it’s fair to say that these letters were inspired by the Apostle Peter and emerged out of a circle of believers who followed his teachings. Remember Peter’s story? He’s the one who was called out of his former lucrative fishing profession to become a fisher of people. He’s the rash one, the one who says the first thing that comes to his mind and the first to jump out of the boat onto the water. The one who denied Jesus three times. He’s also the one who was forgiven three times. New birth.
After Jesus resurrected, he appeared to Peter while he was fishing. He jumped out of the boat and swam to shore to greet Jesus, where they sat around a campfire, cooking fish. That fire probably brought back memories of the night when he denied knowing Jesus. Imagine sitting there, eating, with the one you betrayed - flooded with painful memories of past mistakes. Would there ever be any way that Jesus could forgive him?
Jesus looks straight at Peter and asks him, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.” He asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
Three times Jesus asks, ‘Do you love me.’ Like a crescendo it grows - this call not just to forgiveness, but to restore Peter to the relationship that he and Jesus had before. Jesus invites Peter back into this relationship with him three times to mirror the three denials of Peter. Jesus looks right at the worst that Peter has ever done - and he says, yeah...I can forgive that.
Peter made a mess. He abandoned Jesus at the time he needed him the most, then he denied ever even knowing him after three years of ministry together. He lied to protect himself, while his teacher was crucified on a cross and died a painful death. And then he ran and hid. But Jesus didn’t stay dead. And he didn’t let Peter stay in his mess. Grace meets us where we are - no matter what - and grace calls us to be better.
What mess have you made? There is grace for even you.
And I wonder - what might happen if we extend that grace to others?
Who has made a mess in your life? Is there grace for them, too?
-Rev. Melissa Gepford
Intergenerational Discipleship Coordinator
Prayer for Reflection
God of forgiveness, you have called us to be holy, displaying the love and grace you’ve so freely offered us to others. You have given us new life – may we share that with others. Amen.
-Devotion inspired by Catch Fire in 50 Days: Joining the Movement of God’s Mission in the World by Blake Busick and Christie Latona, devotional from Jerry D. Smith
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