Mark is rather hard on the disciples in his gospel. Among all the gospels he highlights the failure and shortcomings of the disciples the most. Why is that? Partly to highlight the success and faithfulness of Jesus, the Son of God, and partly to show that practically, our success does not lie in our success, but in the success of Jesus. Read that last line again – that truth is profound – it frees us up to fail and still understand we are accepted, loved and secure. Paul is quick to add that this truth does not lead to careless living, for our very heart has been transformed and we now want to do the very things that we previously were required to do but could not do.
We see this total transformation in Peter.
After Peter denies that he even knows Jesus three times, he broke down and wept. John tells us he went home, locked the doors, for he was afraid (John 20:19). John goes on to tell us that Peter quit being a disciple altogether – he returned to fishing. The other disciples no longer considered him worth to be a disciple. That’s why when the women visited the empty tomb, the angel told them to “go tell his disciples and Peter…” Interesting. Peter is not classified as a disciple anymore. If the angel doesn’t also say “and Peter” the angel wouldn’t have included him.
What happens next? The three gospels that are most alike, Matthew, Mark, Luke, all drop Peter’s story cold. No follow up, no redemption.
So, if you read Matthew, Mark, Luke we read of a Peter that failed, fell short and quit being a disciple. But then if we skip over to Acts and read Acts 5:27-30 where Peter stands boldly before the ultimate power of his culture, the Sanhedrin, and courageously charges them with killing the Messiah, we’re wondering what happened – how did he recover and become confident?
Acts 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council [Sanhedrin]. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers RAISED JESUS, whom YOU KILLED by hanging him on a tree.
Where did Peter get this confidence?
He was forgiven and reinstated back to being a disciple on a beach next to a fire with words of love, forgiveness and grace from his Rabbi. John records this in great detail!
So, Peter’s total transformation came from a personal encounter with Jesus. I observe many in our culture that seek total transformation through diets, exercise, seminars, pills, shopping, clothes, and the list goes on. But, let’s all save some time and money and go straight to the only One that can forgive us, the only One that truly loves us unconditionally. In Him we find redemption and security, and when we need it, reinstatement back into fellowship.