Peter is the epitome of reckless failure. And I must admit that I love him for it. We see him taking the plunge (Matt. 14:30) and almost drowning. We hear that he is “Satan” (Matt. 16:22-23). And of course the ugliest moment of all, Peter denies Jesus not once, but three times!
In baseball, at three strikes, you are out. Completely. But Jesus doesn’t keep score. He doesn’t sit in the “dugout” and glare at us when we fail him. There is not any punitive action directed at us for being a “spiritual basket case.” We fail, but it is not a sin unto death. It is a disaster, but never in an ultimate sense.
When we look on Peter, we discover forgiveness in an ultimate sense. So much of his foolishness gets redeemed. He pushes the envelope, and stretches God’s mercy to the point where we think we can hear it groan. And creak– and yet, it holds! We must learn and understand, for he makes provision in his thinking, to handle all of our sin. You might say he has low expectations for us; but high confidence in his power and grace.
His is a grace that holds us. We might flip out and commit gross sin. But it is quite obvious from our reading of Scripture, that we will only find stability in his patient work. He certainly forgives the failure. Faith’s finest had to understand this point.
Peter imploded. His choices and words have been disastrous. He has re-defined failure, and he stretches that definition to about as big as you can make it. When we look square at him, we find that he is nothing more than a sniveling weakling. But! He hasn’t experienced Pentecost yet. It is there, at that moment, he is transformed into a veritable dynamo. He suddenly becomes very strong (think “meek” Clark Kent becoming Superman!)
We need a trajectory of the Spirit which puts us into the place of understanding. We need to sink our roots deep into God’s mercy. We have to come to the place where we start connecting with hope. The place where we are energized by his mercy. We shouldn’t cohabit with disaster. We don’t belong to the arena of the “failed ones.” We stumble to him and he rushes out to meet us. What else could we say?