I have always loved the story of Peter. Not only was Peter one of the disciples, but he was the one we can all identify with at times. A moment of glory was followed by an epic failure, his life a kamikaze mission of faith and failure. Pinnacle to valley, he seemed to descend as quickly as he ascended, always doing so with others watching.
Tonight, we were watching a movie (Paul Blart: Mall Cop) and in the midst of the movie, I looked at my wife and said, "You know, I am the Paul Blart of pastors. I always mean well, but always seem to fall flat on my face." Blart constantly failed, but he just kept going. She laughed. I mean, she really laughed! We were in a discussion about certain things and the overwhelming nature of life right now. I chuckled, explained myself a little better, then focused on the next round of work to be accomplished.
My mind kept rolling through the happenings of seventeen years of ministry. Then, I thought about Peter. He was such a soul in his own right. For instance, Peter was the only one of the twelve to answer Jesus' call to get out of the boat and walk on the water. For a few steps, he gave the appearance of super-disciple, having a faith the other eleven could only dream of having. Then, he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink.
Another instance was seen in the Upper Room. He swore his allegiance to Jesus, proclaiming that he would die for Christ before he would deny. Peter went even further by drawing his sword to fight off those who had come to arrest Jesus. Not long after, he denied knowing Jesus and then, the rooster broke the panic of his mind in concealing his identity, revealing his reality that Jesus was right.
A cross held the One he had failed. Three nails affixed his failures, his shortcomings, his brokenness to a perfect Lamb, slain for the sins of the world. The One on the cross cried out, gave up His Spirit, and the wrath of God enshrouded the world in darkness. His death was a result of the choices of Peter, the rest of the world, you and I. The centurion at the foot of the cross, witnessing all the events as they unfolded proclaimed that the One they had executed was indeed the Son of God. But no one needed to convince Peter...he already knew. He had just given in to fear along the way.
After Resurrection morning, the encounter Peter had with Jesus was anything but convenient or comfortable. Jesus, the One he had denied, stood before the broken disciple and began a line of questioning. "Do you love me?" The pain of such a question cannot be trivialized. That hurt. That stung. Peter had dropped everything prior to follow, then failed, and then had to answer a question that he deserved to be asked, but had no desire to be confronted with. With the question, standing face to face with the One he had denied knowing, his brokenness could not be hidden. "'Yes, Lord,' he said to Him, 'You know that I love You" (John 21:15 HCSB). Jesus responded, "Feed My lambs". Again the question came as to whether or not he loved Jesus. Peter replied again, assuring the resurrected Lord of his love for Him. Then, the third question came. His exasperation, his weary and troubled soul, and his heavily burdened heart, weighed down from the past, came out as he responded, "Lord, You know everything! You know that I love you" (John 21:17 HCSB).
At that, Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep, restoring Peter and redirecting a life that had fallen off its course a short time prior. Can you imagine the broken hallelujah that was uttered by his soul? He had blown it, but Jesus had forgiven him and restored him. He had denied. Jesus had welcomed him back. Scripture says that all have sinned, that all have fallen short of the glory of God. That sin separates us from God, but when we are restored to the Lord, we softly whisper a broken hallelujah as our souls enjoy the warmth of the presence of our Creator, the assurances of our Savior, and the One who is our hope and our redemption. "Hallelujah...hallelujah."