I felt like doing a little something different today.
You may have figured this out based on my love for the Throne of Glass series, but my favorite characters tend to be the reluctant heroes – the ones that are usually so messed up or have so many regrets they avoid their responsibilities.
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about the human version of this. Basically, we are so fixated on perfection that we have a hard time looking past our faults. We see the amazing lives other people lead through social media or reality TV and end up hindering our own capacity to do good because we’re so overwhelmed by what we lack. We let our mistakes, regrets, or inadequacies keep us from growing.
I love reading, I love writing, I love running – but I also love Jesus. That’s the foundation of who I am – what makes me me.
Because of my love for Jesus, I’ve spent time reading and studying the Bible. Regardless of your beliefs about the Bible, it is an amazing work of literature. There are also a ton of lessons to be learned through the lives portrayed within its pages. Coincidently (or not), the Bible reading I’ve been following is called “Epic Fails”. It covers characters from the Bible who royally screwed up, but were able to see past their mistakes and still be used for God’s good.
There’s a lot of people like this in the Bible, but the one I most connect with is Peter.
I love Peter so much.
He is confident and outspoken. He was probably viewed as a leader within Jesus’ twelve disciples. Not only was he one of the twelve disciples, but he was also one of Jesus’ closer friends. He was present with Jesus’ inner circle on numerous occasions.
Peter has a lot of good qualities, but those qualities also tend to get him in trouble. His confidence is often paired with his impulsiveness. Sometimes he talks about stuff he doesn’t know anything about and makes decisions and commitments without thinking them through.
Right before the arrest that will lead to the crucifixion, Jesus takes some time to pray. It’s a pretty intense time for Him. He knows He is facing death, and most likely, He knows it’s not going to be a pleasant time. He takes a few of His disciples with him, Peter included, and asks them to be on the lookout and pray. The disciples are like, “Of course, Jesus,” but then they fall asleep.
Jesus comes back and sees His guys sleeping. He’s pretty hard on Peter for falling asleep and urges him to keep watch, then goes back to pray some more. He comes back again, and again the guys are sleeping.
I mean, I can see why Jesus is irritated here. Peter has sworn his loyalty over and over again, yet he can’t keep himself awake when his Friend is facing the hardest moment in His life.
After Jesus checks on His disciples for the second time, the people who will arrest Him show up. When they approach to arrest Jesus, Peter lashes out (typical) and cuts off a guard’s ear. Jesus, in His compassion and humility, heals the guards ear. It’s almost like He’s trying to show Peter one last time that kindness for others will win over impulsive fighting.
And here is where Peter’s actions take a turn for the worse. After Jesus is in custody, Peter is approached three separate times and asked about his connection with Jesus. This strong, confident young man leaves all sense of loyalty behind as he openly curses Jesus, swearing he never knew Him.
Peter – the same man who hours before had sworn that he would never allow any harm to come to Christ, the man whose name means “rock” – collapsed when his Friend needed his support the most.
At this point, I’m sure Peter hates himself. Jesus told him that this would happen, and he refused to believe it. And yet, there he was, denying any connection he had to someone he had spent the last few years following and learning from. Honestly, Peter probably doesn’t have much left – Jesus is gone and things are just different now. My guess is that since there’s nowhere else to really go, Peter returns to the only other thing he knew – fishing.
Apparently, the fish aren’t biting. A man yells to Peter from the shore and tells him to put his net down on the other side of the boat. I’m sure Peter is thinking that this guy is crazy – if they hadn’t caught anything all day, how would putting the net on the other side of the boat help? But, sure enough, they catch so much fish they can’t haul the nets back into the boat. Peter realizes this man is Jesus, and in his excitement, he dives from the boat to get back to shore as fast as he can.
The men have a seaside breakfast of fresh fish with Jesus, which I’m sure was incredibly encouraging after everything going on. When breakfast is over, Jesus pulls Peter aside for a little talk. He asks Peter three times if he loves Him. Peter adamantly says yes, and Jesus tells him to take care of His people.
There’s no judgment, no condemnation, no ridicule. Jesus never says, “Hey, bro, remember that time you trashed me and denied any connection to me whatsoever?”
He never even brings it up.
He has accepted that Peter screwed up, and is encouraging this young man to keep going.
Peter goes on to become on of the founding fathers of the faith, and church tradition says that he was crucified – crucified upside down because he didn’t think he was worthy of dying the same way Jesus did.
The man who hid when Jesus was arrested and denied knowing Him was crucified for spreading Jesus’ teachings.
Regardless of your religious views, I think there’s something everyone can learn from the life of Peter:
No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, you can move past it and keep going.
Your past doesn’t have to determine your future. Are there consequences for our actions? Yes, absolutely. But there’s also forgiveness and the ability to move on.
We’ve all made mistakes. We all have regrets. What we choose to do with those is what will determine what we become.
Will you hold on to everything you’ve done wrong and let it consume you? Or will you accept that you screwed up and use that knowledge to be better?
It’s your choice.