When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” A third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” […] and when he had said this he said, “Follow me.” (John 21: verse 15 – 19.)
On the night that Jesus was arrested, nearly every disciple abandoned him. As the armed soldiers escorted Jesus to the high priest for questioning, Peter followed at a distance. When they arrived at their destination, Peter sat down and watched as an angry crowd condemned his master. They hurled insults at him and spit on him; they also blindfolded Jesus and repeatedly struck him in the face. As Peter observed the brutality of the mob, his heart began to fail; his confidence gave way to fear. Three times he was asked if he was a follower of Jesus Christ; and three times he denied his affiliation. He eventually ran off disgraced and ashamed. After Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to his disciples. They shared a meal and fellow-shipped. The Lord took Peter aside and didn’t condemn him for his denials. Instead, he absolved him of sin and gave him a second chance. He called Peter to lead and care for those who were giving their lives to God.
In the late 1800’s there lived an ambitious inventor named Thomas Edison. He is credited with inventing the battery, the phonograph, the telegraph, the movie projector, and many other well known devices. One of his greatest inventions was the first industrial light bulb (an item we still use today.) As the story goes, it took Mr. Edison and an entire team of men, 24 hours to produce the first working prototype. After the many long hours, Edison gave the bulb to a young boy to carry up the stairs to the testing area. With the fragile device in hand, the nervous assistant cautiously made his ascent; every step was a carefully planned exercise. Sadly, despite the child’s best efforts, he shattered the bulb. The disappointed team began manufacturing another prototype. Twenty four hours later, the new bulb appeared. Although the young assistant had failed the first time, Edison wisely understood that the boy deserved a second chance. The youngster didn’t disappoint; he delivered the bulb to its destination intact. [Note: The world, unlike Mr. Edison, is not so forgiving. There are many today who cannot find work, or are stuck in horrible jobs because of crimes they committed 10, 20, even 40 years ago. They are condemned by, and find little reprieve from the sins of their past.]
The world is filled with people who have failed in more ways than one; mistakes are a part of life. Human beings can be unforgiving and cruel, but God is merciful. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to give others a second chance; to forgive and forget. In so doing, we too will be set free from the guilt of our past mistakes; forgiveness is the pathway to peace; and mercy is the road that leads to true fellowship with the eternal God.
“Lord Heavenly Father, we have made many mistakes; but You have created in us a new heart. You have given us a second chance. May we show that same love toward others; may we forgive completely, and may we manifest Your mercy and grace in the lives of all those we meet. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and pray all of these things according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.” God bless all of you.