At church today, the community pastor Tim spoke, in part, about forgiveness.
I learned today that in Bible times, when someone declares something three times, it is essentially an oath. It's in the bank. It's sealed.
When Peter denied Jesus, he did it three times. Three times before the rooster crowed, Peter denied knowing Jesus (even though he said he would DIE before he denied Jesus!)
After Jesus had been crucified, the disciples who had betrayed him had gone out to go fishing. And, as you know, they caught nothing. Then a man appears and advises them to put the net on the right side of the boat, and wouldn't you know it, the net fills up with fish!
I find it so humbling that the very first thing Jesus does upon meeting his betrayers, is provide a miracle for them and gives them an abundance of what they need.
Once someone figured out that the mystery man was Jesus, Peter, Jesus' best friend, the one who denied even knowing him multiple times, the one who stood by warming his hands and saying nothing while his Lord was being wrongly convicted, threw himself in the water and started swimming back to shore to be with him!
He didn't try to hide, he didn't sit in the boat and sulk about his guilty conscience, he didn't ask to be killed to avoid having to come face to face with the person he hurt...he went to him.
Once Peter and the others got back to shore, the second thing Jesus did for them was to have a fire going and fish to eat. He made the very men who let him down comfortable and took care of their needs.
This next part brings me to tears.
Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me?"
And Peter said, "Yes, Lord. You know I do."
Again Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me?"
And Peter replied, "Yes, Lord. You know I do."
A third time Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me?"
A third time Peter said, "Yes, Lord. You know I do."
The act of getting Peter to profess his love for him three times, was to reverse the betrayal he committed earlier. I find that so wonderfully marvelous that Jesus allowed someone who rejected him over and over an opportunity to come back to him right then and there. Thank you, God, for your mercy. And he goes on and asks Peter to do great things for him. Jesus trusted him. Talk about ultimate forgiveness.
There are a few absolutely fabulous things I took away from this sermon that I will reserve for my personal journal. But I wanted to share this with you as today is Sunday and I'm feelin' the love for the Lord.