Before he was the preacher at Pentecost, the apostle of Rome, or the rock of the church, Peter was a man in need of tremendous forgiveness and grace. He said as much when Jesus first appeared to him on the Galilean beach: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8) It was a marvel, then, that Jesus decided to take a chance on this man. A man who, by his own admission, declared blatantly that he wasn’t qualified for the job.
Fast forward three years later and Peter finds himself on the same beach. He’s in the same place where the journey started. But now there is no mistaking it: he has totally blown it.
Despite talking a big game, he denied Jesus and dropped the ball not once, not twice, but three times! The disciple that had boasted loudly, “Even if I have to die with you I will never deny you!” shamefully showed what he was really made of — a sorry excuse for a man and a lousy disciple.
Surely Jesus’ gamble has proven unwise. The chance that he gave this uneducated, rough-and-tumble fisherman has bitten him in the butt. At every turn Peter has shoved his foot in his mouth, questioned his rabbi’s teaching, and doubted when the going got rough. And this last defining failure is the finishing touch of a long list of disqualifications.
“Why, Jesus, did you not listen when I told you I was a sinful man? Bound to fall short? Destined to disappoint you? Why did you have to take a chance on me?”
But this is the amazing thing about God’s calling on our lives; the grace that first visited Peter on the shores of Galilee is the same grace that rounds back again to catch him on the tail end of his greatest failure. Like a boomerang, it comes hurtling back with the same degree of force with which he threw it away. And this is the same for you and for me.
Jesus forgives Peter, picks him up again, and sets him on the path towards becoming the leader of the church.
Peter’s example shows us that God’s calling is all grace from first to last. We all bring a different set of disqualifications to the table, but Jesus looks past all of it because it was never about what we brought to the table. Instead, the table has already been set for the breakfast feast of God’s new mercies, ready to revitalize you and me for another day of the work he graciously gives us to do.
By Ryan Lunde
Pastor of Young Adult Ministries
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