A son took his aging father out for dinner one evening. He was excited to spend time with his father who wasn’t able to get out of the house much these days. But as they entered the restaurant many patrons began to stare, for his father was very feeble and his weak stature was difficult for some to look upon. During dinner, his father was dropping food on his shirt and trousers and the stares became more pronounced. One woman loudly questioned why anyone in that condition would eat in public. The son’s uplifting evening was now turning into one of ridicule, disappointment, and even anger. But after finishing eating, he quietly took his father to the washroom where he caringly cleaned him up. They came out of the washroom, settled their bill and started walking out of the restaurant when a man called to the son and said, “I believe you’ve left something behind.” The son looked back at the table and replied, “No sir, we haven’t.” And then the man continued, “Yes, you have! You left a valuable lesson for every son and hope for every father.” The son experienced an array of emotions that evening.
Elation, discouragement, joy, disappointment, happiness, and despair likely describe the emotional rollercoaster that we have all been exposed to numerous times during the course of our lives. So, let’s try to put ourselves in the sandals of those who were close to Jesus, especially Peter, and try to imagine the multitude of feelings rushing through them in this text. Maybe no one in this group experienced more of an emotional rollercoaster than Peter himself.
We know through scripture that Peter was an emotional person. You might describe him as a “Fire, Ready, Aim” kind of guy who had a tendency to speak well in advance of his thoughts. We see a great example of this in John 13:36-38, when prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter, feeling very bold and full of pride, tells the Lord that he will lay down his life for Jesus. But Peter is quickly brought back down to reality when Jesus says that before the rooster crows that very evening, Peter will deny Him three times. In chapter 18 we then see Jesus’ prediction come true as Peter denies his Lord three times followed immediately by a rooster crowing. The Gospel of Luke tells us that as soon as Peter denied Jesus the third time, Jesus turned and looked at him and Peter went out and wept bitterly. And when you think one’s emotions couldn’t get any lower, the one Peter confessed as being “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” is crucified. Peter’s Lord is dead and he along with the other disciples fearfully hide themselves behind locked doors.
Then, on that first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene and the other women rush to tell the disciples that Jesus’ tomb is empty so Peter and John run to see for themselves. However, John 20:9-10 tells us, “For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.” Peter remains emotionally devastated, remembering that he blatantly denied his Lord in public and now He is gone.
But Peter is about to be restored in one of the most incredible examples of love in all of scripture, second only to Jesus laying down His life for all. After the resurrection when Jesus appeared to His disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, He asks Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” Through this one question asked three times, Jesus lovingly erases Peter’s three denials, completely restoring his walk with the Lord. As emotionally distraught as Peter was after denying Christ, Jesus restores Peter’s relationship with Him to a point that lifted him to spread the gospel ultimately throughout the world.
It is important for us to remember, that just as the story of the son being emotionally restored by the man in the restaurant, Jesus stands ready to completely restore us in our failures, if we truly seek Him. And through this restoration, we too, will be driven to spread the gospel to all of those around us.