The problem is we won’t forgive ourselves
Then he said to him, “Follow me!” John 21:19 (NIV)
We believe God will forgive us; the problem, though, is we won’t forgive ourselves.
Peter knew the feeling; he’d failed Jesus, so he went back to fishing. He’d set a high standard of loyalty and love to his Lord, only to perform a belly flop off the high dive, not once, not twice, but three times.
And so it was that he’d gone back to fishing, feeling lower than a bottom fish in the Sea of Galilee.
How could Jesus forgive him, when he couldn’t even forgive himself?
But then Jesus, resurrected, yelled ahoy from the shore, and Peter, in his excitement, abandoned the boat for the speed of swimming to shore. No shout of, “If it’s you, command me to walk across the water, Lord.” Peter figured he’d have to do it on his own because he’d blown his chance for sainthood.
They ate breakfast and Peter was probably hanging back a bit with a sense of shame that lied to him, telling him he wasn’t worthy to even sit in the presence of Jesus.
Yet, Jesus, showing sweet sensitivity, reached out to Peter, knowing he was hurting and humiliated, but also knowing he’d been humbled into the “I can’t” stance.
Jesus reminded Peter that the sentence doesn’t stop at “I can’t”; it moved onto “God can.”
Standing at the Sea of Galilee, on the shore where Jesus first promised to make Peter a fisher of men, the Lord offered one more lesson: Through God’s mercy and grace—because Jesus died but was now standing alive, resurrected, before Peter—there could be forgiveness of sins and peace with God.
Jesus once again said to Peter, “Follow me!” (John 21:19 NIV).
Jon Walker is the author of Breakfast with Bonhoeffer, Costly Grace, and Growing with Purpose. He is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope devotionals. This devotional is copyrighted 2013 by Jon Walker. Used by permission.