Links Daily Devotional

Life After Failure

…and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time… (1 Corinthians 15:5-6a, ESV)

Today’s scripture passage feels a bit like a moment of color commentary: the background information shared in a telecast to fill in the time between shots and offers insight about the golfers and the game. The play-by-play of the event unfolds in the verse just before, “…that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

Is it helpful to know Jesus had personal encounters with real people after his resurrection? I believe it is, and at the same time, I can’t say with any certainty that Paul’s color commentary directly impacted my faith decision. Recently, however, my heart danced as my spiritual eyes were opened to the importance of Cephas (Peter) being first in the list of those who Jesus appeared to after his resurrection.

As I think about Peter’s story, there must have been a swell of internal chaos that gripped his soul as the rooster crowed and he denied Jesus for the third time. The Gospel of Matthew tells us, “And Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75). The Greek word for wept means to sob, wail aloud.

In the midst of his shame and brokenness, I wonder if Peter believed he had been disqualified from what Jesus had spoken over his life in the months prior to this moment: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

Have you ever wondered if your failures have disqualified you from God’s love or his purpose for your life? I have wrestled with this many times.

We get a sense that Peter believed he had been disqualified when he went back to what he knew before meeting Jesus—fishing. In his infinite mercy, Jesus showed up on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. A shift occurred in Peter’s heart when he recognized Jesus. He jumped in the water, swam to shore, and brought all of who he was—including his failures—to Jesus. Jesus invited him to a meal that first met Peter’s physical needs and then ended in restored relationship.

Peter do you love me? Yes. Peter do you love me? Yes. Peter do you love me? YES!

In his playful and compassionate way, Jesus affirmed Peter that he still belongs and is not disqualified from living into the more that Jesus had for his life.

– Peter gave the speech that led to the salvation of 3000 at Pentecost (Acts 2:14)
– Peter healed people (Acts 3:6, 9:34)
– Peter had visions (Acts 10:13)
– Peter preached to the Gentiles (Acts 10:34)

Jesus stands on the shores of our lives and is calling our names as well. Life is messy. We fail. We disappoint. We harm. We resist. We clench our fist at God and others. And in his lovingkindness and mercy, God invites us to return to the table where we belong and are loved. We are not disqualified! There is more for us, too!

Tracy Hanson
April 30, 2015
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