The Bible is full of colorful characters. I can think of many Biblical characters who I think would make wonderful guests for an evening of conversation. Methusaleh, Jeremiah, Rahab, Enoch, Hosea, Jeremiah, Elijah, John the Baptist, the man with the legion of demons, Nicodemus, etc. would all generate tremendous questions from me. Simon Peter was certainly a colorful and interesting character. Who can understand a man who would simply drop his tools walk away from his livelihood, leaving his equipment behind to follow an itinerant preacher? What kind of impact would having your mother-in-law miraculously healed have on you? What must Peter have seen and heard that would cause him to declare to his flesh and blood friend that the friend was the “Christ, the Son of the Living God”. What could make a man rebuke that friend only minutes later? What could make Peter declare that he would never forsake his friend, not even at the cost of his life? What could make such a man, just a few days later, in an act of cowardice, three times deny this friend? What must it have been like to hear the rooster crow, while Jesus silently looked at Peter? What could ever rid Peter’s mind of that awful, awful scene? What could change this confused, scared, up and down, hot and cold weakling into the solid rock of a man who would strengthen his brothers?
John 21 gives the answer. The chapter opens with Peter declaring to the rest of the disciples that he was going fishing. No one knows if that was a good decision or a bad decision. Scripture does not tell us if going fishing meant that Peter was walking by faith or by sight. We are not told if this meant that Peter was being strong or weak, wise or foolish. The truth is that it simply does not matter. If it did, God would have told us. What matters is that Jesus met Peter where he was. The One who had been betrayed sought out the one who had betrayed. Jesus asked Peter a series of penetrating questions and gave him a direct command in this meeting. Preachers and teachers of the Bible have made much about the different words Peter and Jesus used for “love” in this passage. Much ado has been made about the various words Jesus used in this passage for shepherding the sheep. Those studies are important and we can learn much from them. However, that is beyond the scope of my focus here.
What grabs my attention is that at the bottom of this whole conversation is that Jesus is offering Peter a chance to be restored, to put the betrayal behind him, to rid his mind of this paralyzing picture that kept him out of service. Let us change the focus to you and me. Thank God, that when you and I sin (which is betraying Jesus) there is not an inspired author standing by to record it in sacred Scripture. (It will however be in the “books” opened at the end of time.) Just because, you do not physically see Jesus looking at you when you sin that does not mean that He is not looking. Surely, He sees. Peter received a great blessing, a great advantage that you and I do not have. He had a physical picture burned into his mind that Jesus saw his sin. When you sin, remember that Christ sees. Pray to God that this will drive you to Christ, seeking forgiveness and restoration. He stands ready to forgive and restore. Do you need restoring? Ask Christ now. Do you need to restore someone else? Stand ready to do it. You might just help someone change from Simon into Peter. Does your attitude contribute to the restoration of fellow sinners or does your attitude contribute to a lack of restoration?