The other night before bed, I read John 21:15-19. Jesus in this passage reinstates Peter after his thrice denial of him during his trial. Three times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” In verse 17, it says that Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him a third time.
As I meditated on what I had read, I thought about the agony Peter must have gone through as Jesus questions him. He knows he failed, lacked courage, and let Jesus down. In Luke’s version of the story, it says that after he denied him the third time, “he went outside and wept bitterly.” Yet you never hear Jesus tell him during the time of his reinstatement, “You are such a disappointment to me,” “you let me down,” “you’re such a coward,” “you call yourself a disciple!”
Jesus loves him and accepts him.
Accepting myself, especially when I’ve failed, has been a struggle throughout my life. Because of a lack of love and kindness during my formative years, I could quickly turn on myself in self-deprecating ways when I felt I had let God down. “God must hate me, be disappointed with me, can’t stand the sight of me”, would resound in my thoughts.
This passage from the Gospel of John has been instrumental in realizing God doesn’t hate me when I fail. I’m guessing most of us believe Peter deserved shame, punishment, exclusion from the team. Isn’t that what his denials deserved?
That night, I thought about how many times I’ve denied Jesus in my lifetime. Choices that I’ve made that do not bring glory to Him. I began to weep as I thought about how he doesn’t condemn me for my poor choices but loves and accepts me. Gratitude sprung up in my heart, and I began to thank Him for his tender mercy.
And then he said to me what he spoke to Peter all those years ago, “Follow me.”