I can’t read the Book of John without being knocked over by the following. As a matter of fact, for me, it encapsulates the amazing love of Christ in a way nothing else does. Stay with me to the end:
Peter has denied the Lord, with all that is is within him, at that time of terror in the high priest’s house. He has lied about knowing Christ, then sworn by oath – that is, by God’s name – he has had nothing to do with Him. He has called down curses on himself – asked to be eternally condemned – if he is not speaking the truth.
What happens next? Peter goes outside and weeps bitterly. He is truly ashamed and heartbroken at his own behavior. (Can’t we all relate with that?)
And then? Peter retreats to a barricaded room – because of potential violence – with the other disciples. Although they must have known of his betrayal – John had also been at the high priest’s house, and, anyway, Peter was not the kind to hide things – they accept him wholeheartedly into their number. No rebukes. No condemnation. Not even any lectures! Seemingly, no hesitation. (What? He has just betrayed Christ!)
Next? The women discover Jesus has risen. Does Peter try to avoid a possible encounter with Jesus from shame, or embarrassment, or fear? Does he try to flee from His presence as Adam and Eve did after they had sinned? NO; rather, he is first into the tomb to investigate what has happened. He desired the Lord’s presence, his “close-upness”!
And now? At last, Jesus is among them. Does he say a single word to Peter about his betrayal? NO. He grants Peter, among the others, both his peace and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Next? He appears to the disciples again. A word of rebuke yet? NO!
Finally: Jesus appears on the seashore while his disciples are fishing. When John recognizes him, Peter is in the water in a flash – again, heading toward Jesus as quickly as he can…Not a thought in his mind that their relationship is not one of utter commitment on Jesus’ part, in spite of his unspeakable sin. Jesus finally, indirectly, speaks of the betrayal… only to formally proclaim Peter’s full and official pardon, necessary to his continuing apostleship.
But, and here is where I look on in awe….Had Peter ever doubted – on a personal level- Christ’s immediate and complete, no-more-to-be-said-about-it forgiveness? Even before it was officially given? NO! Had the other disciples? NO! Why? They had lived with Him for three years and THEY KNEW HIM!