“Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.”…After this He said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:18–19
Peter’s story ends much like it began. Peter had been a fisherman, an outspoken disciple of Jesus Christ, and an absolute failure when he denied ever knowing his teacher. The specter of the cross seemed to bring out the worst in all the disciples as they abandoned Jesus, leaving Him to face His adversaries on His own. However, Peter stands alone as the disciple who boastfully promised never to leave Jesus’ side, only to entirely disown Jesus when the going got too rough.
Most people are familiar with this story of profound forgiveness. Jesus allowed Peter the opportunity to profess his love for Jesus, thus undoing the guilt and shame of Peter’s threefold denial. What we might fail to notice is that this was also a moment of new beginning. The very last command Jesus issued to Peter in this Gospel was also the very first command extended to Jesus’ disciples: “Follow me.” The end of this Gospel points back to the very beginning. Not only does Jesus forgive Peter, He also says, “Okay Peter, let’s try this all over again…Start by following me.” What a joy it is to know that our Lord doesn’t only allow us to retake the tests we have failed, but Jesus is willing to review the entire course of study—from the very first lesson!
Do you have to go back to the beginning and start following Jesus all over again?
Dear Lord, thank You for your willingness to forgive us when we fail, and for allowing us to start all over again with the reassurance that You are still in the lead. In Your name, I pray. AMEN.