In January, our Student Ministry worked through a series entitled, My So-Called Friends. In this series, we looked at the attributes of a true friend: Unconditional Love (someone who loves without holding anything back), Vulnerability (someone who opens up past, present, future), and lastly Loyalty (someone who has your back when no one else does). At the beginning of the month, we were praying that students would draw closer to each other and closer to Jesus. Man, did that ever happen!
I want to spend a few moments looking through the scope of friendships. No matter your age, your background, or your skin color we all enjoy friendships. We were all appreciate connecting with someone or a group. My question I want to zoom in on is, what happens when there is a hurt within a friendship?
One of the greatest examples of friendships in all of the Bible is a Peter and Jesus. When I think of Peter and Jesus, judging from my own friendships, they had nicknames for each other (Peter’s original name is Simon), probably had a special handshake, maybe even had inside jokes. But something happened in their friendship, that would have rocked any relationship.
During the Last Supper, Jesus expresses that everyone will fall away from Him (Mark 14), but Peter stands up and says, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” Jesus answered and said, “Before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown Me three times.” Peter tells Jesus, “I will never disown you.”
When I look at this conversation, I would hear Peter’s hurt. This is Peter’s friend, why would Jesus say this? Well, wouldn’t you know it, it plays out exactly how Jesus said it would. When the rooster crows after the last denial, the Bible tells us that Jesus and Peter eyes meet. I’m sure Peter remembered the earlier conversation and had the realization of what just transpired. I’m sure Peter wished he could take it all back. There is so much emotion in that moment, that Peter runs off weeping.
If that’s where the story ends, this would be a depressing story. Thankfully, Jesus’ grace is much bigger than any disappointment. John 21 unfolds the story of true unconditional love between friends : Forgiveness and Reinstatement.
After the denial, Peter ran back to what he knew. He knew how to fish. So a few of his friends got in a boat one night and decided to fish all night, and they didn’t catch anything. In the morning, Jesus asks them, “Have you caught anything?” Could you imagine how frustrating that would be to hear? Then Jesus tells them to cast on the other side of the boat; they catch a large number of fish. When John tells Peter that the man telling them this is Jesus, Peter jumped out on the boat and swam to Jesus. You see, Peter wasn’t concerned about the catch, he was focused on the redemption. Peter messed up and chose his own skin over someone that he loves. He wasn’t going to waste any more time, Peter wanted to get things right with Jesus.
Peter had a “calling” on his life. Remember, he was told he was to be the rock that Christ was going to build His church (Matthew 16:18). When Peter denied knowing Jesus, I wonder if he thought what we all think when we blow it: we are not good enough, we keep making stupid mistakes, or God can never use me. Jesus, in His great mercy, restores Peter back to his “calling” by stating three times, Feed My Lambs. Jesus is telling us, no amount of pain can take away your purpose. When there is hurt and once there is forgiveness there will always be a moment of reinstatement between friends. Because love covers over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
Through all of the friendships and relationships that we acquire in our life, we will be hurt and we will hurt. We will say something that we don’t mean. They could find a flaw in you and be judgmental. But a true friend is someone who has faith in you even when you have little in yourself. Just like Jesus had in Peter, in Peter’s worst moment.