Day 5

Encounters with Christ: Peter’s Reinstatement

from the The Resurrected Life reading plan


John 21:1-25

BY Rebekah Lyons

Text: John 21:1-25

As darkness settled, Peter decided to go fishing.

Maybe he thought it was the only thing left that he could control. Jesus, whom he loved, had died and risen again. He was overjoyed in knowing his beloved teacher and friend was alive, but guilt-ridden after denying Him (John 18:15-27). His shame had led him here, to familiar waters. With a few trusted friends by his side, Peter pushed off from the shore.

Venturing out into the night, I imagine he looked for solace in the stars. Perhaps he hoped his old everyday routine would bring comfort. He cast his nets far to the left of the boat, but it was a no-go—the expert fisherman couldn’t catch a thing all night (John 21:3-4).

As the sun rose, they drifted toward the beach and looked up to find the Son of God standing on the shore, though they didn’t recognize Him.

“‘Men,’ Jesus called to them, ‘you don’t have any fish, do you?’

‘No,’ they answered.

‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat,’ He told them, ‘and you’ll find some.’ So they did, and they were unable to haul it in because of the large number of fish. Therefore the disciple, the one Jesus loved, said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’” (John 21:5-7).

Right then and there, Peter jumped into the water and swam to shore. Despite the angst in his own heart, he couldn’t help but be drawn to another encounter with his Savior and friend. However, there was still unfinished business between them. Before sending him out into the world to help rescue the souls of unbelievers, Jesus would gently restore Peter to Himself (Matthew 18:16-20).

Jesus had a feast waiting for them upon the shore—breakfast a la cookout, I like to call it—a hearty portion of grilled fish and bread, prepared for everyone (John 21:12-13). After they ate their fill, Jesus and Peter stole some moments alone. Jesus had come to do for Peter what He longs to do for each of us: He had come to remove Peter’s shame.

And so for each of the three times Peter denied Him, Jesus asked:

Do you love me?
Yes, Lord.
Feed my lambs.

Do you love me?
You know I love You.
Shepherd my sheep.

Do you love me?
You know everything. You know that I love you.
Feed my sheep.

(John 21:15-17, my paraphrase)

What I love most about this exchange is Jesus’ immediate grace toward Peter after the resurrection. Jesus knew Peter would likely carry the shame and guilt of his denial for the rest of his life, unless He intervened. The point of the cross, after all, was that guilt and sin would no longer hold us captive.

The resurrection power of Jesus sought Peter out, reminding him of everything they’d ever known in their friendship. First, Jesus once again confirmed His love for Peter, and allowed Peter to express his love in return. Then, He gave Peter instruction on how to further this message of love, the gospel. Despite Peter’s denial, his place in the Kingdom never changed. Jesus’ plan and purpose for him remained the same.

When I think of all the ways I’ve blown it, the innumerable ways my actions should’ve thwarted God’s plan and call upon my life, I’m exceedingly humbled. In spite of our shortcomings, God promises to complete His good work in each of us (Philippians 1:6). His power and His love for us are far greater than our sin and shame.

This is the good news! This is the gospel.

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70 thoughts on "Encounters with Christ: Peter’s Reinstatement"

  1. Naomi says:

    so true!

  2. Peter gives me hope. No matter how much I mess up God’s grace is always more.

  3. Mian Bryant says:

    I’ve royally screwed up certain things in my life. Sometimes my past tries to creep back into my spirit by whispering lies about who I am today. Praise be to God that he saw beyond my foolishness and delivered me to save my future. Restoration is ours for the taking. We just have to ask.

  4. Sarah says:

    There is no doubt that I know the gospel, and there is also no doubt that each time I hear it, it applies to me in a new way. I get caught up in the idea that the gospel is for people new to their faith, that it doesn’t apply to me because I know God. Yet, those moments that I realize that these words were written for me, for everyone, in times of trouble, doubt, and fear, no matter the stage of their walk, is the most freeing thing. I am made new each day through him, and that will never cease. “His power and His love for us are far greater than our sins and shame”. Thank you for reminding me that I am free of my past.

  5. Shea says:

    Oh I get so steeped in shame. Sin has a power if we let it, but hallelujah for a God of grace that reminds us that to him our sin has been wiped away. Jesus gently reminds us that our transgressions do not have a hold on who he says we are now. We are new and free of blemish and we can live with freedom and without fear! Lord thank you!

  6. Shiloh says:

    I’ve heard this story of the Bible so many times, but it has NEVER spoken to me like this has. “Jesus KNEW Peter would likely carry the shame and guilt of his denial for the rest of his life, unless He intervened. The point of the cross, after all, was that guilt and sin would no longer hold us captive.”

    What an amazing Father we have, that he so desperately seeks to intervene when we are failing to walk in the promise of the Cross. Thank you, SRT team!

  7. Emma Williams says:

    “Despite Peter’s denial, his place in the Kingdom never changed. Jesus’ plan and purpose for him remained the same.”

    Amen that he has a plan for us. I’ve never looked at this passage this way. So thank you SRT! and thank you Jesus for your word that it is alive and true and will never stop bringing revelation, renewal and refreshment into our lives.

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