Reflection, Theology

The Saturday Experience: Your Greatest Weakness as His Greatest Strength (Part III)

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“Come and have breakfast.”
John 21: 4-12

Picture Peter in particular the day after that Friday. Three moments were unbearably tormenting him, swirling round and round in his head. In one instant his mind was flashing to Thursday night when he had boldly declared to his friend and master, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” In the next he felt a stab in his heart, picturing himself just hours later by the charcoal fire, cow-heartedly answering the slave girl, “I am not his disciple…I am not his disciple…I am not his disciple.” And then, immediately after in the early hours of the next morning, the moment when his friend and hero had caught his glance and the caustic tears had begun to flow irrepressibly. Peter knew then that he was a failure.

On Saturday, the day when it seemed all had failed and all that was left were the questions, the disciples needed to wrestle and trust God based on his promises and his proven character.

But the most beautiful thing about this story is that Jesus stays with us even when we fail to do this. Think again on Peter and his story. He and the rest of the disciples really did fail. It wasn’t imagined. They really had betrayed Jesus and let him down. But on Sunday morning when Jesus returns, he isn’t out to get Peter. You would think he would be. No, Jesus knew his frailty and he had prayed for him just as he had promised (Luke 22:31-32). He said that somehow this would work for good, somehow Peter would be able to come out of this experience and encourage others. Jesus was going to take that moment of utmost failure and turn it into the moment of His utmost victory.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore… When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea… When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them…“Come and have breakfast.” (John 21: 4-12)

Jesus comes once again as a friend, right back to the place where they had first met–at the shore. Peter’s response is to dive into the water. Not proud, not hiding, but running to his Master. At this point, Jesus had already appeared to the disciples twice, but there was still a deeper work to be done in Peter’s heart. Jesus needed to go back to that moment of deepest betrayal, to the very same charcoal fire where he had denied their intimacy. Jesus is specific–in fact this type of fire is only mentioned twice in the entire scriptures: Peter’s betrayal and Peter’s restoration.

Peter had gone back to fishing, his old job. Jesus encounters him right back at the same place where they had met, as if to say, “Peter, it hasn’t all been worthless.” He had seen his very worst moment, but now he invites him to a barbecue on the beach. Where three times Peter had denied their bond, Jesus three times extends his hand in love and draws the words from Peter’s heart, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus takes Peter back to his greatest failure, heals it, and says once again the first words he ever spoke to him, “Follow me.” All was made new.

Through the Saturday Experience, Jesus turned Peter’s greatest weakness into his greatest strength. When Peter ran to him again, Jesus redeemed him and strengthened him so that he could in turn strengthen his brothers. It was after this full restoration that Peter would follow and never again deny him. His previous words about being willing to die, which seemed so hollow on Saturday, were ultimately proven true when Peter himself was later crucified for his Lord.

We may live in the Saturday time, we feel like everything has failed, us, God, the plan, and all we are left with are the questions. But cherish the questions, they are the tool that God will use to deepen your relationship with him. On your Saturday, think deeply about the truth: who God is and what he has promised. Trust him–it’s the only thing that makes sense. Remember that Jesus is with you, he is praying for your by name. If you will run to him, he will turn even your moments of deepest failure into a victory, using you to encourage others and build his church.

On your Saturday, thank him for what he did on Friday and trust him for what he will do on Sunday.

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