Luke 24:33-34 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”
This is a clear record of one of the most dramatic events in the entire Bible that is not described: the personal meeting of Peter with the risen Lord whom he had denied knowing just days before. Paul also references it, (1 Corinthians 15:5) though he wasn’t a believer at the time it happened. Don Francisco wrote a magnificent story-song about it that I feel sure is highly accurate as to the emotional and spiritual events of the encounter. I think it teaches us a great deal about the love and grace of God that it happened, and by the changes that were so evident in Peter afterward. The contrast between Peter and Judas is also important to consider, and I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had Judas not committed suicide before the resurrection. Judas’ betrayal was more active, and the motive seems to have been financial profit, but Peter said three times he didn’t even know Jesus, after Jesus had warned him about it specifically. If anything, Peter was perhaps more devastated after the crucifixion than Judas was, because his love for Jesus was greater. The point is, Jesus responded to the love, to the repentant heart, and gave him a personal audience like no other. As familiar as I am with it, I still get a thrill every time I hear Don Francisco’s song. As a result of that encounter, and the commissioning by the Sea of Galilee shortly afterward, (John 21:15-22) Peter became the leader of the Church in Jerusalem, even before Pentecost, and was the first to deliver the Gospel specifically to Gentiles. (Acts 10) We can have terrible failures, but God can still use us. We’ve got to remember that the real power is never in us anyway, so our weakness should never be an issue. It is when we realize that that we get past the weaknesses and move into all that God intends for us.
I have always liked Peter because he is so human, so ordinary even. I have had to learn the hard way that when I am sure of my personal competence I fall flat, but when I rest in the knowledge that God can do anything through me, He does. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6) I have quite a track record of “failure by conceit!” God has placed many gifts and abilities in me, but as soon as I take personal pride in them, forgetting who gave them to me, or if I fail to be diligent in applying what He has placed in me, I fail indeed. Some of Peter’s characteristics that God used mightily were doubtless seen as character flaws in other contexts. The boldness that he exhibited before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4) is the same character trait that caused him to rebuke Jesus. (Matthew 16:22) I am never to despair at anything I see in myself, but yield it all to my Lord so that He may make the use of it that He intends, for His glory.
Father, this isn’t exactly what I expected to get from this morning’s reading! Thank You for speaking what I need, when I need it. Help me be the encouragement those around me need to yield all of themselves to You, even the things they see as negatives, so that You may turn them around and use them for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!