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The One Who Is Like Us

When it comes to the disciples, no one loomed larger than Simon Peter, the impulsive fisherman-turned-apostle whose journey with Jesus is marked by both remarkable faith and profound failure. Peter's story serves as a reminder of the transformative power of redemption and the unwavering grace of God, inviting us to embrace forgiveness and continue following Jesus despite our failures.

Peter's journey with Jesus begins amidst the ordinary rhythms of his fishing trade. When Jesus first encounters him by the Sea of Galilee, he beckons Peter to leave his nets and follow Him, promising to make him a fisher of men. Despite his initial hesitation, Peter responds with unwavering faith, leaving behind the familiar comforts of his livelihood to embark on a journey of discipleship.

Throughout his time with Jesus, Peter's faith is tested and refined through a series of triumphs and failures. He is the first to declare Jesus as the Messiah, earning the praise of his Lord. Yet, in the same breath, he recoils at the notion of Jesus' impending suffering and death, earning a sharp rebuke from Jesus himself.

Peter walked on water only to sink in fear when he got distracted by the wind and the waves.  When Jesus rescued Peter and they returned to the boat, the disciples worshipped Jesus for the first time.  Even Peter’s failure led people to see Jesus for who He is!

However, perhaps the most infamous moment in Peter's up and down life comes during Jesus' trial and crucifixion. Despite his earlier boasts and promises of loyalty, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times, succumbing to fear and self-preservation. In that moment of weakness, Peter's failure seems irreparable; his faith is shattered beyond repair.

Yet, it is in the aftermath of his failure that Peter encounters the depth of God's grace and forgiveness. In John 21, following Jesus' resurrection, Peter is restored and commissioned by Jesus himself to feed His sheep; the call to follow Jesus and be a fisher of men that began on the shore of the Sea of Galilee three years earlier would not be retracted by Jesus because of Peter's failures.  

Here's the the story.  The aftermath of Jesus' resurrection finds Peter and the disciples grappling with uncertainty and doubt. In a moment of restless anticipation, Peter returns to the familiarity of his former life as a fisherman, drawing John and several others along with Him. Yet, even amidst their uncertainty, Jesus seeks them out, revealing Himself again in a miraculous fish catch.

The scene is set for a poignant reunion between Jesus and His disciples, a moment pregnant with significance for Peter, who had denied his Lord three times in the hours leading up to the crucifixion. As they gather around a charcoal fire reminiscent of the one where Peter had denied Jesus, a profound conversation unfolds between Jesus and Peter.

In this intimate exchange, Jesus poses a series of probing questions to Peter, asking him three times, "Do you love me?" Each time, Peter responds with a heartfelt affirmation, echoing his earlier declarations of loyalty to Jesus but twice comes up short of fully committing to love Jesus unconditionally. But with each question, Jesus invited Peter to overcome his denials with love, devotion, and commitment statements.  Jesus met Peter where He was because He knew where He would take Him.  Through this dialogue, Jesus reaffirms Peter's calling and commissions him to shepherd His flock, entrusting him with the weighty responsibility of leading and caring for His followers.  He invited Him one more time to be a fisher of men, and Peter followed Jesus passionately.

Peter's story offers a profound message of hope and redemption for you and me. Like Peter, we are all prone to moments of weakness and failure, falling short of the glory of God. Yet, even in our lowest moments, God's grace is sufficient to restore and renew us, offering forgiveness and a fresh start.  Peter's journey reminds us that despite our fear, regrets, failures, and sins, Jesus invites us to follow  Him anyway because it's by following Him that we become like Him!