A third time [Jesus] asked [Peter], “Simon son of John, do you love me?” John 21:17a (NLT)
Wendy and I have been in Texas on business the past several days. Yesterday afternoon and evening is about the only break we’re going to get before flying home on Wednesday. So, we enjoyed it. We went out in the afternoon and enjoyed a long walk in the sun. We enjoyed a nice meal together and then sat out in the hotel courtyard in the evening to enjoy a glass of wine and some quiet conversation.
Our conversation meandered into the subject of grace: being freely given God’s love, forgiveness and favor even though you don’t, in any way, deserve it. We discussed our mutual observation that those individuals who screw their lives up the most seem to understand grace best. As the sun went down, Wendy and I recounted our lives, our personal failings, and how God used them to teach us about His unmerited favor. Once you’ve experienced grace in the midst of your own moral bankruptcy, you find it much easier to love others you encounter in the midst of theirs.
Perhaps that’s why I love the story of Simon Peter from today’s chapter. The undisputed leader of Jesus’ followers, it was Simon who publicly denied Jesus three times even after being warned by Jesus that he would do so. Jesus asks Peter three times to affirm his love for Him. Three affirmations, one for each denial. For the second time in his life, Simon Peter stands on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and hears Jesus call him to follow. He would emerge from his own public failure changed by grace, and would become an even better person and leader because of it.
As the dark of night crept in around us, Wendy and I finished our glass of wine and marveled at where our individual journies have brought us, and where our journey together is leading us. We thought about Taylor, and Clayton, and Madison; We pondered where they are in their own individual journies of grace and where we see it leading them. Amazing.
It was a wonderful evening.