Please Read Chapter 21 of John’s Gospel
Comfort was surely what Peter needed on the eve of Good Friday when he left the courtyard of the high priest’s palace. He was overwhelmed with guilt and shame at what he had done. Three times he had been identified as a disciple of Jesus and three times he had responded by denying that he even knew Him. Peter wept bitterly.
Imagine Peter’s misery. We know the feeling of guilt that follows the realization that we have offended our Lord. The damage has been done and it cannot be undone.
Peter suffered the pain of a guilty conscience, but Christ was already at work to lift him up from his misery and restore him.
Christ was not physically present that night to comfort Peter with the assurance of forgiveness, but His Word remained in Peter’s mind and on his heart. Christ had not only foretold Peter’s denials but had also given him in advance the promise of restoration, saying to Peter, “I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:32).
“…When you have returned to Me”—how those words must have kept Peter from despair and comforted him!
Again on the morning of His resurrection, Christ extended a hand to Peter to comfort him. Even before He appeared to the disciples, Christ sent them a message through His angels that they were to meet Him in Galilee. The invitation was for all of them, but Peter was included by name (Mark 16:7). He needed to know that he was welcome.
Peter knew that he was forgiven, but he needed to know also that Christ still counted him among the apostles. Peter had been chosen to be one of Christ’s chosen representatives who would communicate His gospel to the world. But Peter had denied his connection with Jesus; he had renounced his apostleship.
Christ gave Peter what he longed for. He came to Peter and personally restored him as an apostle.
It was the third time Christ had appeared to the disciples after His resurrection. He identified Himself as the risen and living Lord by repeating the miracle of the catch of fish. Then He singled out Peter and spoke to him. Peter was grieved when Christ asked him three times whether he loved Him.
Peter answered humbly. He did not boast of his love for Jesus but appealed to Jesus’ divine knowledge of his heart. Each time that Peter answered in this way Jesus re-committed to him the ministry of the gospel: “Feed My lambs…Tend My sheep…Feed My sheep.”
In this act of divine grace we truly see Christ as the Restorer. We see Him as the Savior who gave Himself for us to atone for our sins and who is eager to give the comfort of forgiveness to penitent sinners.
Christ is there to comfort all who suffer the misery of guilt and shame that Peter felt. To all who fear that by their sins they have forfeited their place among Jesus’ disciples He offers His hand to lift them up and restore them.
An editorial introducing our Portraits of Christ series said this (in part): “The Evangelist John wrote his Gospel so that people ‘may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name’ (20:31)…. Our writers will expand on Portraits of Christ in the Gospel of John. May we be encouraged to turn often to this Gospel to read the wonderful word-pictures the Spirit uses to portray our ‘Beautiful Savior.'”
With the series concluding in this issue, we heartily thank our staff writers for their heart-stirring portraits of the Savior!
Portraits of Christ in John’s Gospel:
Ch. 1 The Son of God
Ch. 2 The Son of Man
Ch. 3 The Divine Teacher
Ch. 4 The Soul-Winner
Ch. 5 The Great Physician
Ch. 6 The Bread of Life
Ch. 7 The Water of Life
Ch. 8 The Defender of the Weak
Ch. 9 The Light of the World
Ch. 10 The Good Shepherd
Ch. 11 The Prince of Life
Ch. 12 The King
Ch. 13 The Servant
Ch. 14 The Consoler
Ch. 15 The True Vine
Ch. 16 The Giver of the Holy Spirit
Ch. 17 The Great Intercessor
Ch. 18 The Model Sufferer
Ch. 19 The Uplifted Savior
Ch. 20 The Conqueror of Death
Ch.21 The Restorer of the Penitent