Richard Mansel, managing editor
Jesus spent the days between his resurrection and his ascension, assuring the disciples and preparing them for their future mission (cf. John 14-17). His timely appearances were edifying and instructive as he built their faith and confidence for the arduous road ahead.
Jesus knew the pain and suffering they would endure for being his servants (John 15:18-19). His apostles were blessed with different gifts. Peter, for one, possessed leadership and courage. Yet, Peter had been disgraced and destroyed by his denial of his Lord at the crucifixion (John 18:15-18,25-27).
Nevertheless, Jesus wanted to restore and empower Peter so he could realize his potential as a mighty force for the gospel.
Peter is as fascinating a character as there is in Scripture. His complex nature led him headlong into victories and defeats. In our weaknesses, we see Peter as a kindred spirit.
Peter’s walk with the Lord began unexpectedly (John 1:40-42) and ended triumphantly as a martyr for his Lord (John 21:18-19). In the middle, Peter was courageous, impetuous, prejudiced and passionate.
The dichotomous nature of Peter is exemplified in Matthew 16. Mid-chapter, Peter affirms Jesus, saying, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16, KJV) and then denies him by rebuking him for his recklessness.
“Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23).
Peter’s fall found him in a similar situation. When Jesus tells his apostles of his impending death, Peter says he would follow Jesus anywhere. His folly led Jesus to pronounce a sad prophecy.
“Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, ‘The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice'” (John 13:38).
Like another warrior of God, he was brought low by a woman. Elijah stands and defeats the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:17-46), only to fall apart when pursued by Jezebel (1 Kings 19:1-3). Peter challenged the Roman army (John 18:10-11), and then lost his composure before a young girl (Matthew 26:69-75).
Peter fulfilled the prophecy by denying that he was with Jesus and therefore innocent of conspiracy (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:55-62; John 18:15-18, 25-27). Since Jesus was dead, all seemed lost because Peter could not make things right.
In John 21, we see the reinstatement of a brave warrior for Christ. He goes from heartache and tears (Matthew 26:75) to exultant victory in Christ (Acts 2). The account of that remarkable transformation is found in John 21 and the story is unforgettable.
God can forgive each of us of our sins, as well. He will bring us back to the fields, so we can continue our path to heaven. Don’t give up on God, he is always there (Hebrews 13:5).