by Joel Lawler
He had blown it. There was no other explanation and no excuse. There was no denying his failure. He and he alone was to blame. He acted alone and chose to do the unthinkable. He had betrayed his closest friend.
It was just a matter of hours before that he swore to stand by him come hell or high water. Hell came crashing down and he failed to stand by his friend. His friend had given him everything. He was in a dead end job with his only hope being to make it through the next day. Hope was a fleeting dream. His country was in the shackles of a brutal empire. He was less than human to those in power. His blue collar job was frowned upon by the common folks.
The day he met his friend, he found a new way and a new life. He almost walked away due to feeling unworthy but instead he chose to follow. For three years he spent his days and nights traveling with a man who taught him what love was. His friend pointed him towards hope, joy and meaning. His life was forever changed by the man who he would betray.
They were in the garden when the soldiers came and arrested his friend. He tried a feeble attempt to fight for his friend. He followed the soldiers in the shadows as they took his friend away. He tried to blend in with the crowd that had gathered to witness the trial. He was discovered and his cover blown.
Three times he was asked if he was associated with the man on trial.
Three times he denied knowing him.
It was then that he realized what he had done. The promise he made was shattered. He had turned on the one who loved him unconditionally.
They had a mock trial and his friend was brutally executed.
His story does not end here.
His story begins here.
Three days after being killed, Jesus rose from the dead. The grave could not hold him. Evil had been given free reign and had done its worst. With all the fury of hell, love won out. Even the very despicable act was redeemed into an act of sacrifice on our behalf. Grace found a way to provide a path to God for us. All of our failings are paid in full by the death and resurrection of Our Savior.
Peter saw Jesus from a far. He would need to face him knowing that Jesus was fully aware that he had betrayed him. He ran to him.
Jesus asked him - "Peter, do you love me?"
Jesus asked him this three times.
Peter had denied him three times.
Peter answered him that he did love him. Jesus told Peter that his love for him would someday cost him life. Peter's betrayal was behind him.
Peter was given a new start.
Jesus asked him to take care of his people. He went on to be the leader of the church.
Jesus was after Peter's heart. He wasn't after Peter's service or blind devotion. He did not give Peter a list of things to do in order to get back on his good graces. He loved Peter and wanted him to know it. He also wanted Peter to leave his past and move on.
God gives us a fresh start. No matter whom, no matter where you are and no matter what you have done, He is the God of new beginnings and fresh starts.