Over the weekend I preached at a youth camp at Hebron Hall in Dinas Powys and I had a great time. My theme was ‘Encounters With Jesus’ and I simply looked at 3 different people who encountered Jesus in the Gospels – Zacchaeus, Peter and the dying thief. While I felt God’s help in each session (I was as shattered as a Pastor with a sleepless baby) it was something that came out of my studies in Peter that I really wanted to write about.
Peter was called by Jesus with the simple words “follow me” (Mark 1v16) and he didn’t think twice! He dropped everything and followed Jesus on an adventure that would transform his life forever. However, Peter’s walk with Jesus (pre-resurrection) is full of impetuous decisions, irrational outbursts and moments of stupidity that fully endears him to disciples like me who are so gifted at messing up. That’s why Peter is my New Testament hero! Peter’s worst moment, however, was his triple denial of Jesus following His betrayal and arrest. As the cockerel crowed the extent of Peter’s shame and failure dawned on him and he fled weeping as Jesus was led away to die on a cruel cross for the sins of the world (including Peter’s!)
Following His awesome resurrection Jesus went looking for His boys and blessed them with a cooked breakfast on the beach. After they’d eaten He took Peter aside and asked him 3 times to express his love for Him, which Peter duly did. The thing is I’m so familiar with this story and have heard so many messages preached on it (3 questions for 3 denials etc.) that the last bit of the passage had just passed me by. That is until this weekend. Check out the poignancy of the very last words of Jesus to Peter: “Follow me!” (John 21v19) The significance of these words would not have been lost on Peter as they’re the very same words with which Jesus had initially used to call him to join Him on a mission to change the world.
That just blows me away! That after all Peter’s stupidity, his mistakes and his sin, Jesus desire had not changed one bit – He still wanted to be in a relationship with Peter and still wanted to use him for his kingdom purposes. Talk about a fresh start! The grace of Jesus towards us never ceases to amaze me, and I’m so glad that I get to follow Him! I don’t deserve Him, I’m weak, flawed and pathetic, but His ways are higher than mine, His blood has covered my sins and His grace is more than sufficient!
Thank you Jesus!