Have you ever needed to be restored?
Earlier this summer I completely blew it as a friend. A dear friend of mine had anticipated my support and my attendance at a significant event in her life. I had said I’d be there, and had made definitive plans to be there. However, when the night came and I was to be there, I chose differently, and I did not go.
It hurt her deeply. She didn’t have tell me, I just felt it. I knew. And even though she said it was fine, my lack of support hurt her to her core. My non-attendance was not calculated on my part, I just chose what I thought worked better for me.
But even though we can justify our feelings and our actions, we all have the ability to painfully hurt those who are closest to us.
A couple days later, after it had been silent between us, I called. I didn’t ask if I’d hurt her, she didn’t bring it up. I knew I had to speak first. I apologized for the pain I’d caused. She was kind, yet very honest about how she’d been hurt. I listened. My heart sank. I would never intentionally hurt my friend, yet here she was. Hurt and in tears because of my actions. There was nothing I could do, nothing more to say. I couldn’t go back in time, I couldn’t change the past. I couldn’t rearrange my circumstances and make the events go differently. All I could do was to say, from the depths of my heart, I’m sorry.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever hurt someone close to you, wished you could go back and change everything to make it all better again? Ever sat and realized that the only thing that would resolve it between you was if that person forgave you…and then willingly welcomed you back?
Restoring a friendship can be a difficult process. It’s one thing to say you are sorry for your actions. It’s a whole other thing for the one who has been hurt to come back, come alongside, and say I forgive you and let’s move forward…together.
But that’s what my friend did. Several nights later I was at another event with her and several others. When I walked in, honestly with pit in my stomach, she rose up from her seat, walked over and embraced me. She brought her seat over to mine. My heart was washed with emotion and thankfulness.
She offered grace. Forgiveness. Restoration.
This is what Jesus did for Peter. Peter said words that he never wanted to say. He made choices he wished he could go back and change. But he couldn’t. What was done was done. There was no going back. All he could do was hope that his dear friend would somehow offer a God-sized gift of forgiveness and that their friendship would one day be restored.
As we watch the final scenes of our amazing story, I want to go back to something I suggested on Monday. I’d asked you to keep in mind two specific words: Intentionality and Anticipation. These closing chapters of the Gospel of John are full of Jesus being amazingly intentional. But what has stirred the most emotion in me is His anticipation of His interactions with his dearest friends. Let’s look at three examples.
WHAT DID JESUS SAY?
1. “Mary!” Without too much prompting, I ask you to read John 20:1-18. Imagine, feel, breathe in what Mary Magdalene felt and experienced in every verse. Then flip characters, and imagine (as much as you can) how Jesus must have anticipated His appearance to her. His relationship to Mary began when He cast out seven demons from her (Luke 8:2-3). She followed and supported Him and His disciples throughout His ministry. He knew of her faithfulness and devotion to Him. He surely had many interactions with her and knew of her commitment. Jesus chose to appear to her first. For reasons only known to Him, Jesus appeared first to the women who ran to the tomb that early Sunday morning. Not Peter and John, who also went to the tomb, but to Mary and the women.
2. “Now come and have some breakfast!” v. 12, NLT. As you read through chapter 21, picture the anticipation Jesus had in having an early morning breakfast with His disciples. Read through each verse and think about the preparation Jesus did ahead of time in order to make this happen. Then look at verse 13 which says, “Then Jesus served them…”. What does that speak to your heart? I know as a mom there is an anticipation that builds in me as I prepare a meal or a surprise for my children, and a joy as I picture their responses. Because we are made in the likeness of God, I have to think that Jesus felt all those same feelings for His friends as He made them breakfast.
3. “Do you love me?” v. 15 Jesus restores Peter. After His painful betrayal by one of His best friends, Jesus draws Peter back to Himself. After three denials, Jesus allows Peter three opportunities to declare his love for Him. How Jesus’ question must have stung when asked, yet how encompassing Peter must have felt after Jesus affirmed him and ended with the words “Follow Me”. Jesus knew Peter. As we discussed in Week 1, Jesus anticipated this from the moment He first saw him back in chapter 1. Jesus knew all this would take place and that they would find themselves here, by the sea, having a conversation after breakfast. Jesus offered God-sized forgiveness. Peter received restoration. He was safe, loved and commissioned.
WHAT IS JESUS SAYING TO US?
1. Remember that Jesus loves you. As we have seen and experienced through our time in the Gospel of John, its message is that Jesus, full of Deity, power and authority, loves you. It is not a story of the past, but one that is everlasting. He loves you. Today, right now. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing. Remember that. Hold on tightly to it with everything you’ve got. Fight for it when the muck and mire try to steal your joy. Let that Truth shine boldly through the darkness: My Jesus loves me.
2. His love compels us to do the same as Peter – Follow Him. Jesus wanted to know that Peter loved Him. But Jesus didn’t allow Peter to just sit in the wonder of that love. He commissioned Him to go, to carry His name to all the world. We are to do the same.
What is Jesus asking us to do next?
1. Offer restoration. It is one thing to forgive. There is, however, a very big next step that must take place to restore. I get it – sometimes the pain is too deep, the hurt too painful. But so often we take the easy way out and write people off without pursuing restoration. I am so thankful my friend did that for me. Jesus did so for Peter, and it changed the course of history. Pray and see how God might lead you in the next steps towards forgiveness and restoration in your life.
2. Follow Him. Decide in your heart to do this. No turning back, no turning back.
I absolutely love the last verse of John. The curtain falls with the most incredible, awe-filled words. Read this last verse with the true wonder in which it must have been written:
“Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.” v.25
One commentary describes it this way:
“John ends his Gospel acknowledging that the story he has described is larger than anything he can imagine or fully communicate. Though it is glorious for us to read, John’s account pales in comparison to the glory of the person it describes.” – NLT Study Bible Commentary
Amen, and amen.
And so we go. Our time together has ended, the lights have come back up in our “auditorium”, the story of the Gospel of John concludes. We head out into our lives separately, yet collectively filled with a new awe, a new love and a new commitment to follow Jesus. To be Women Who Believe. To believe Him, for all that He is. May we be different, may we love bigger, and may we believe Him more boldly and more passionately with every fiber of our being. God’s richest blessings on each and everyone of you!
Thank you for being a part of this incredible look into His Word. On behalf of all the Pastors’ Wives of Foothills, we say “thank you” for allowing us to be a part of your Summer. As Fall begins in a few weeks, watch for more Women Who Believe study opportunities. God bless you as you continue to soak into His Word and live your life as a woman who believes God for all that He is.
Don’t forget (if you live in the Denver area) to join us for our study wrap up! Be a part of our Red Letter Celebration, THIS MONDAY, August 6 @ 6:30pm at Foothills Community Church. For questions and to RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.