No.122. Thanksgiving that the Lord is so kind!

Colours of the Rainbow > Thanksgiving > No.122. Thanksgiving that the Lord is so kind!

I was thinking this morning about how kind the Lord was to His disciples during His trial and crucifixion and then when He appeared to them after His resurrection. It was a time when, to a man, they abandoned Him to His enemies, inspite of all the wonderful things they had seen Him do over the previous three years. I was particularly struck by the way that Jesus was with Peter and the difference between how Jesus behaved towards him and the way that one might expect the leader of a group of young men to be with his friends after they had let him down so badly.

Peter is there in the courtyard, and right in front of him the chief priests are trumping up false charges against Jesus. He is  being mocked, and vilified, and Peter, as Jesus predicted, denies knowing Him or having anything to do with Him three times, in quick succession, in Jesus’ hearing. It is not difficult to imagine that, had Jesus not been who He was, Peter may well have heard cursing and shouting. He might have yelled at Peter, ‘Tell them you know me, tell them who I am, tell them I’ve only done good for people’. Had it been another person in that same situation Peter may well have heard curses unleashed over him, not because his leader hated him, but because he was experiencing humiliation. His disappointment with his friend and his feelings of betrayal and abandonment might have caused him to rage at his tormentors and at Peter too.

But Jesus just ‘looks’ at Peter, and whatever it was that Peter saw in His eyes, we can be sure that it was not anger, bitterness, or hatred. Whatever Peter ‘saw’ in His face was not ugly or tortured, there was no sign of Jesus wanting to hit out or get revenge. In fact whatever it was that Peter saw, broke him. I think it may have been sorrow that he saw in Jesus eyes. Yes sorrow, not for Himself, but sorrow for Peter in his hour of failure. There was compassion, and yes, I believe Peter saw ‘kindness’ too, because Jesus knew the remorse that Peter was going to have to live with over the next few days. Luke 22:54-62.

Then there is the conversation that Jesus has with Peter by the lakeside, when the disciples had eaten the meal prepared for them by Jesus, after their fishing miracle, John 21:15-19. We don’t hear any recrimination from Jesus, no harsh words, or even questions like “Why on earth didn’t you listen to my warning?”, “What were you thinking Peter, to bail on Me like that?” We don’t even hear “Well if you are going to be reinstated as a leader you’ll have to prove to me that you have learnt your lesson, and that you won’t let me down again!!”

The conversation that Jesus and Peter had was so simple and yet so tender and kind. Jesus was going to recommission Peter, and instead of a pep talk He gave Peter three opportunities to declare his love. Three opportunities to make up for his denial of Jesus. Peter who had reached a new level of self awareness and honesty didn’t speak beyond where he was at, and in answer to Jesus first question “Do you ‘agapas’ me more than these?” Peter says “Lord you know that I filio you” with no claim now that he had any greater love than the other disciples. He has stopped trying to put himself forward as the bravest and most loyal, and he uses the ‘friendship’ word for love, ‘filio’, not the ‘agape’ word for ‘sacrificial love’ that Jesus was using.

The second time Jesus asks “do you ‘agapas’ me?” But this time He leaves out the question about being more loving than the others. Peter’s first answer has shown Jesus that Peter has learnt that this is not a competition. Peter replies again “Lord you know that I ‘filio’ you”. He is not going to be tempted to go beyond the frailty he now recognises in his own heart. Both times in response to his answers Jesus commissions him, “feed my lambs”, “feed my sheep”. Jesus is not looking for perfection here, before He tells Peter His plans for him. Then the third time Jesus asks the question He uses the friendship word Himself, “ Do you ‘filio’ Me’ and Peter, although we are told he is grieved at this third question, is able to respond,“ Lord, you know all things, you know that I ‘filio’ you”. He had reached that place of reality.

We can only guess at the look in Jesus eyes as He asked Peter these questions. I even wonder if Peter was able to hold his gaze. I think probably, yes he could. Jesus had led Him, without rebuke or chastisement, to a place of honesty and humility. Jesus has restored him by kindness and compassion and can now disclose to him what his future role will be. Now that is some restoration. It reminds me of Paul’s observation to some early Christians ‘that God’s kindness leads you to repentance’, Romans 2:4.

So how about us? God is so kind, and sometimes we can take that kindness for granted, and assume that it really doesn’t matter how we live or how much we love God, or stand up to be counted for Him. At other times we can find ourselves struggling to believe how kind our God is, and we may expect a harsh rebuke from Him whenever we mess up like Peter. I think our thanks to Him for His kindness will save us from either of those two extremes. Being grateful for His kindness will enable us to live in the goodness and kindness of our Saviour, without taking Him for granted. Then we can tell our story, and like Peter, let others know how good it is to be a follower of Jesus.


Sign up to receive notifications when a new post has been published as well as our latest news from Hillcrest. You can unsubscribe any time, please view our privacy policy for more details.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Sign up to receive notifications when a new post has been published as well as our latest news from Hillcrest. You can unsubscribe any time, please view our privacy policy for more details.