A story of grace


One of my favorite aspects of grace has to be the way that it always comes when we feel we deserve it the least. The story of Peter gets me every time. It's a story of failure and shame covered by unmerited, undeserved grace. 

He is rough by nature, unschooled, and passionate. Peter is one of those endearing characters in the Bible that you can't help but sympathize with. He's often the first to speak up, which gets him in trouble, he is known to stick his foot in his mouth more than once, and is definitely not perfect. 
But his passionate attitude and faith are what make him a part of Jesus' inner circle. He is one of those die hard people who, whatever they do, they're all in. His faith allowed him to walk on water, his courage allowed him to see blind people healed, and his boldness brought thousands to Christ. 

Peter and his brother are called by Jesus and immediately they drop everything to follow Him. Little did he know that in just 3 short years he would play a huge role in the first efforts to advance the Gospel. 

Like we described earlier, Peter was either all in or all out. He was probably one of those guys who you didn't really have to wonder what they were thinking. It was either written all over his face or coming straight out of his mouth. 

So much of his story is a process of learning and preparation. Jesus knew what part Peter would play in his plan and he knew that if Peter could ever "get it" he would change the world. Which, I think, is one of the reasons why he was so patient and persistent with him. 

The story that grabs my attention the most begins with Jesus and the disciples in the upper room. Jesus is telling them of future events and that the enemy would try to stop them from finishing their course and that one of his disciples would betray him, but before he is even finished talking, Peter blurts out that he would die and go to prison before rejecting Christ. Flash forward and Jesus gets arrested and taken for questioning. Peter, we find out, is not far behind, keeping up with Jesus through the crowds and watching as closely as he can. 

Jesus is eventually taken to stand before the High Priest and Peter is waiting in the courtyard to find out the what is happening. While there, he is recognized by 3 different sets of people as a follower of Christ. Fearing for his life, he instinctively rejects the claims every time. 

Honestly, I don't blame him. That would've probably be my reaction too.  

As soon as he gets the words out of his mouth that third and final time, the rooster crows and Jesus glances in his direction. Locking eyes with the one who taught him everything and believed enough in him to call him out and realizing what just took place. The very thing Jesus warned him about hours before was happening. At that moment, I imagine, instant regret and shame poured over him. 

Peter sees Jesus and for a moment of eye contact, he realizes everything he has done. He realizes the shame and fear in his actions and that he let down the one he cared for and have his life to follow. 
He begins weeping, filled with regret and shame. The days to follow would be the hardest. He watched this man die, with his last word to him being a lie. His last interaction with Jesus was in shame. Now he is watching with regret and hopelessness the story unfold. 

But the cool thing about grace is that it shows up in the most unlikely of places. Somewhere in the week after Christ died, Peter had time to look at his life and decided not to wallow in the shame of his failures. He took time to understand he failed, but that wasn't the end. 

Days after his death, in John 21, we see the scene of Jesus standing on the beach making breakfast for his disciples on the beach. John, fishing off shore with some other disciples, sees him at a distance and, in true Peter fashion, as soon as he hear Jesus is on shore, he jumps out of the boat and swims to see Him. He had one more chance to get it right. 
I'm sure with tears in his eyes he come to Jesus and all at once he gains hope and dignity. 
Jesus, not done with Peter, takes a moment to establish him and pour out grace on his broken life. 

Grace looks us in the eye and completely covers every stupid thing we've done. I love how it not only, forgives us but it also, establishes and validates us. 

No matter how much shame and regret you may be living with, or how many mess ups you experience, we have full access to the love and grace of a living God who gave everything for us to know the freedom that comes through his grace.  

We, like Peter, will never deserve how great the grace of God is, but that's what makes it grace.





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