#461 The Breath of Forgiveness Part 2
“What do you do when you have failed a friend? After you’ve cried till you’re numb. After you’ve replayed the failure over and over in your mind…What do you do then?
You find some way to hold back the pain.
“I’m going fishing.”
That is Peter’s way of dealing with the pain. He’s tired of thinking. He’s tired of the incriminating conversations he’s had with himself. He wants a mindless diversion, an escape. “
We all know that fishing did not heal the restlessness or fill the empty grief in his heart.
The night in the boat with the other disciples produced empty nets and empty hearts. But the morning brought something entirely new. There on the shore a man stood on the beach. He asked them if they had caught any fish, and their answer was no. He then instructed them to cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat for success. The net was so heavy they were unable to haul it in. John spoke directly to Peter. “It is the Lord.”
What do you do when you’ve failed a friend? You go to him.
Peter can’t constrain himself. He throws himself into the water, and for a hundred yards his tears mingle with the sea. The memory has done its work….
When all the disciples land on shore, Jesus invited them all to have breakfast. Each one probably wrestled inside with regret and guilt. Jesus did not speak words of incrimination. He ate breakfast with them as a gesture of friendship. He spoke directly to Peter and asked him a simple question. “Do you love me?”
He asks three times, once for each denial. Not to rub it in, but to give Peter an opportunity to openly confess his love. Something Peter desperately needs to verbalize….Peter looks up, longing for the faintest glimmer of forgiveness. And in a language beyond words, in a language of love, it glows from the Savior’s eyes. [Jesus repeats for the third time, “Feed my sheep, Peter.” [“Pasture my lambs.” “Tend my sheep.” “Pasture my sheep.]…Jesus way of saying, “I still believe in you. I still think you’re the right man for the job.”
Jesus had orchestrated everything to bring back two memories to Peter’s mind—a precious memory [of Peter’s original calling to follow him} and a painful one, [of his denial]…He brought it [the painful one] to the surface for one purpose and one purpose only—to heal it. To heal it so Peter could go on loving him and serving him without that painful memory leaning over his shoulder the rest of his life, wagging an accusatory finger.
That intimate moment proved to be a turning point in Peter’s life. Within seven weeks, he would preach the boldest sermon of his life. It would be in Jerusalem, the bastion of hatred against Jesus… [Acts 2:1-4,14-36]…Later, he would stand before Caiaphas himself and the entire ruling council that had conspired against Christ. He would stand up to them in a bold confession for his Savior….” [Acts 4:1-5,6-22] From Moments with the Savior by Ken Gire
Perhaps part of the power and influence that Jesus passed on when he breathed the holy Spirit upon the disciples was the insight and ability to personally grasp the principles of forgiveness and accountability. John 20:20-23
And perhaps with time and especially through this experience, that breath of forgiveness helped Peter truly absorb the power of this encounter with Jesus, and helped him triumph over his own sense of guilt.
Jesus longs for this same triumph in each of us.