GOSPEL MESSAGE & RECORDING
Rev. Fr. Gheevarghese John
In Mark 8:31, Jesus harshly rebukes Peter and calls him “satan,” for attempting to change His mind about His passion and crucifixion. In the night of the Last Supper, Jesus told His Apostles that He would be betrayed and that none of them would stand by Him in His last hour. Peter told Jesus he would stand by Him and defend Him. Jesus, knowing Peter well, said that before the rooster crows today you will have denied me three times. (Matthew 26:34) And indeed, Peter, in the night of Jesus’ trial, denied Him three times.
In the post resurrection account in John 21, Peter, after witnessing the miracle of the catching of fish, is asked three times, “Do you love me?” Peter replies by saying, “Yes, Lord, you know how much I love you!” In order for Jesus to fully restore Peter and make him the head of the Apostles, He had to ask the same number of times that Peter denied Him.
This process of restoration in the life of Peter was a messy one. Peter was by no means a perfect person. Nor did he have the proper resume to become an Apostle of Christ, let alone, the head of the Apostles. By human standards, Peter was unreliable and uncommitted. But Jesus knew that God was working in Peter; and that one day he would become a great man. Peter’s failures were molding him to endure the hardships of the early church. For Jesus, Peter’s failures (denial) did not disqualify him but made him stronger. Jesus knew that in the end Peter loved Him. That is why He asked Peter “do you love me?” Restoration takes a long time. It is through failures and weakness that a person begins to understand the true love of God. No person can truly know God without experiencing failures and setbacks. So that in the end when God restores the person, they understand that God did all the work. Hence the glory goes to God and not to the person.
The life of Peter is a synopsis of our lives. We can look back and see the failures and setbacks. We can remember the numerous times we denied Christ by our own sins. We are exactly like Peter. God wants to restore each and every person to Himself, through His Son Jesus Christ. As Christ restored Peter, He wants to restore us too. He asks all of us today, “Do you love me?” What will our answer be?