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Lenten Devotional: February 24, 2024


by Rev. Margaret Rountree, Associate Pastor 


Was there ever a time in your life where you felt hopeless and realized you were powerless to change on your own? Simon Peter surely felt this way after Jesus’s crucifixion and death. Peter had always been confident he would serve Jesus well. He was bold. He was outspoken. He was always among the first to raise his hand when Jesus taught. Peter was so certain that he would never betray Jesus. He was positive that even if all the other disciples would leave Jesus’ side, he would stand firm. Peter believed himself to be a loyal, devoted follower of Jesus who would stand firm, lead the way, never falter, and never give up. But, we know this was not the case. Peter demonstrated all of these qualities until he denied Jesus three times while sitting around a charcoal fire on a cold night in the courtyard of the office of the high priest where Jesus was taken after His arrest. Jesus is tortured, carries the cross to Golgotha, dies an excruciating death, and is placed in a tomb. And what does Peter do? He returns to his old life before Jesus, to the work he probably was trained to do since he was a boy, the work of a fisherman. Fishing was something Peter was good at and an activity that Peter could excel in, but things are not going well on the Sea of Galilee in John 21. Peter and the other disciples have fished throughout the night and have not caught a single fish. Peter has returned to his old life, feeling like a failure in his new life as a follower of Jesus. He denied his friend and teacher not once, but three times. And now he experiences failure in what he used to succeed at as well. Peter feels hopeless, worthless, powerless, and defeated.


What does Peter need to “fix” his life? Peter does not need a self-help book to turn his doubt into confidence. Peter does not need a motivational speech to turn his sense of worthlessness into a feeling of value. Even yet, Peter does not need someone to make him feel better. Rather, Peter needs to be redeemed. He needs a Savior. He needs Jesus, who is the only One that can give Peter a new, resurrected life. And Peter knows this at the soul level.


He has not caught any fish all night. Early in the morning, Peter and the disciples see a man standing on the shore. The man shouts to them, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some [fish]” (John 21:6). So, Peter and the disciples cast their net on the right side of the boat and there are so many fish that they cannot haul in the net. The apostle John is the first to recognize the Risen Lord and exclaims, “It is the Lord!” (John 21:7). When Peter hears this exclamation, he immediately jumps into the water and swims to the shore where Jesus is standing. He is frantic to get to Jesus. He cannot wait. Why? Peter knows he needs to see Jesus. He knows He needs redemption.


He knows that he needs to be resurrected. He needs the grace of forgiveness and the reminder that he is a beloved child that God will not let go. In the conversation that follows, Jesus gives Peter new reasons to love him more deeply and value his loyalty to Christ more fully. Jesus gives Peter a calling and a purpose. Jesus gives Peter a mission. In the years that follow, Peter becomes a conduit of both the love and power of Jesus. He performs miracles as Jesus had and blesses the sick and vulnerable. He teaches and preaches with great power and effect. He leads the early church, encourages and trains new disciples, and shepherds the growth of the flock. Inspired by what Jesus had done for him, Peter was now amazed at what the Holy Spirit would do through him.


From Peter’s story, we learn that Christ not only saves us from sin, guilt, shame, fear, and death but even more so, Christ saves us “for” something. Restoration and redemption lead to mission. This is truly the power of the Resurrection. Through it, Jesus gives us another chance at life.


Challenge/Meditation: How has your redemption and restoration in Jesus led to mission in your own life? In what ways are you being called to love God, neighbor, and self?


Prayer

Our Good and Gracious Heavenly Father,

We are grateful for the reminder that resurrection leads to restoration, and restoration leads to mission. This is the power of Jesus’ resurrection! Continue to lead us toward our own restorative moments so that we may move confidently and boldly into the mission you have for each of us. We desire to move forward with you in love; in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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