Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. (Colossians 3:13)
One evening, Jesus spent long hours with His disciples while eating dinner together. Jesus wanted to talk about His love to His disciples. He also asked His disciples to love each other. In the middle of the dinner, Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, suddenly left the room, and disappeared into darkness. The rest of the disciples at the dinner place thought that he went out to buy something or to do something related to his function as one who took care of Jesus’ ministry money bag. Jesus continued talking after Judas’ departure. After finishing His usually long talk, Jesus got up. He crossed the Kidron Valley and entered a grove of olive trees. The rest of Jesus’ disciples followed Jesus. It was the place where they usually came with Jesus for prayer.
Judas also knew the place, because he had been there with Jesus for prayer. After leaving the dinner table, Judas actually went to the high priests and Pharisees to inform where Jesus was. He had already received thirty silver coins from the high priests. Thirty silver coins were not a small amount of money. Each silver coin was about one day of wages, and what Judas got was about one month of wages or salary. As soon as the leading priests and Pharisees saw Judas, they had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
Then Judas quickly approached Jesus and kissed Jesus. He didn’t do it out of love of Jesus, but to sell off Jesus to the high priests and the Pharisees. Then the Roman soldiers and Temple guards quickly moved in to arrest Jesus. There was a small conflict between the rest of the eleven disciples of Jesus and the people to arrest Jesus. But it was quickly ended. Jesus peacefully surrendered, and He even sternly warned Peter,
“Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52b)
Immediately, all disciples fled from the scene, but Peter could not run away. Peter told Jesus before, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” In fact, Peter brought a sword to fighter for Jesus, but Jesus did not allow for him to fight. Peter decided to follow Jesus while putting a distance. It was a really frightening scene. He believed Jesus was the true son of God, who was mighty and powerful. Peter eye-witnessed many miracles performed by Jesus including resurrected Nazareth, Jesus’ dear friend. Jesus even wept when He saw the Nazareth’s tomb. Jesus calmed storms and walked on water. Peter himself experienced of walking on water with Jesus, although he quickly sank when he was fearful about a huge wave rapidly approaching to him. Jesus quickly grabbed Peter to keep from drowning. Out of this event, Peter directly experienced Jesus’ mighty, powerful, and loving hand of Jesus. But now Peter was really scared. The powerful and mighty Jesus was powerless before the Roman solider and the temple guards.
So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up. They took him to Annas, since he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time.
Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant girl came over and said to him, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.”
But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. It was Peter’s first denial of Jesus.
Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself. Peter was continuously eye-witnessing a frightening scene. Jesus was bounded and beaten by the temple guards. Peter was in fear because he would also arrested like Jesus, and bounded and beaten.
As Peter was standing by the fire warming himself, they asked him again, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?”
Peter denied it, saying, “No, I am not.” This was the Peter’s second denial of Jesus.
Peter tried to move away from the people around the place to hide. But one of the household slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?”
Again Peter denied it. This was Peter’s third denial of Jesus. And immediately a rooster crowed. Peter had denied Jesus three times before a rooster crowed as Jesus foretold, although he professed, he would die with Jesus rather than denying Jesus. While Peter was denying Himself, Jesus turned and looked at Peter. Peter saw Jesus’ eyes with full of mercy.
Peter quickly came back to himself. Then Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Jesus was not just beaten and released. Jesus was condemned by Pontius Piliate, and crucified. In fact, Jesus’ gruesome death was the most critical part of Our God’s salvation plan for us. Even so, Peter could not overcome fear. He did not come to the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, but his heart was full of shame and guilt. He could not take off his guilt. He had to live in the guilt of denying Jesus, although His dear teacher who loved Peter till His death. Peter knew that his guilt and sin would be forever with him. Peter still remembered Jesus’ merciful eyes, but he could fully appreciate the magnitude of Jesus mercy, grace and love. Thus, Peter continued suffering from his guilt and sin.
Three days later of Jesus’ crucifixion, he heard from ladies that Jesus was resurrected. He went to the tomb. The tomb was supposedly sealed, but it was wide open. Peter went in the tomb, but the tomb was empty.
Peter was confused. Peter was still in fear of being arrested and killed like Jesus. Peter with the rest of the disciples were gathered one place and locked the door, but Jesus, who resurrected, came and showed himself to the disciples. They were all excited, but Jesus did not show up again. Peter, who was still bothered by his sin of denying Jesus three times, went back to the Sea of Galilee, and was fishing with other disciples as he used to do before meeting Jesus.
One day, Peter spent all night with other disciples, but did not catch any fish. At dawn, they were turning back from the Sea of Galilee with empty boat. One person on the beach called out “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” Then he suggested to throw the net on the right-hand side of the boat. Peter did. Then it was a miracle. They could not haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
Then Peter suddenly recognized the man on the beach was Jesus. He hurriedly came up to the beach to see Jesus again. He knelt down before Jesus and exclaimed, “My Lord.” Peter, Jesus and the rest of the disciples together had breakfast at the beach with the fish that they just caught and were full.
After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter,
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,”
Jesus told him.
Jesus repeated the question:
“Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,”
A third time he asked him,
“Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
“Then feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
Jesus came to peter with love instead of telling what was wrong with Peter. Jesus did not blame Peter, but He forgiving Peter’s three denials in His love. Jesus, then, built up Peter. Jesus carefully and explicitly asking Peter three times, “Do you love me?” to completely abolishing the guilt from Peter’s three denials. Through each question, Jesus forgave, encouraged and even commissioned Peter by telling feed “my sheep”, i.e., His people.
Being hurt from and hurting others are always with us as long as we are on earth. Jesus showed the greatest example of His love. Yes, Love is the answer. What does Jesus want form us? As He did, forgive and restore our offenders in love of Jesus Christ. Let’s look around us. Surely we will see not just one, but many whom we can forgive and restore in the love of Jesus Christ.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthian 13:4-7)