If I Could Turn Back Time…

Today’s scripture: John 18:15-18, 25-27; 21:15-19 (ESV-text and audio) (KJV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me in this passage? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts (Jeff Miner):

I had never done anything quite so bad before. My little sister had been tormenting me mercilessly all morning long, and finally I snapped. I began shouting and cursing. She just laughed at me, which only enraged me more. That’s when I did it . . .

I hit her. I doubled up my fist and hit her in the mouth. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she realized what I had just done. The hurt in her soul was obviously much greater than the physical hurt. Her big brother had hit her! In that instant, I realized I had lost something I could never regain — her trust. Overwhelming regret rushed over me. If only I could rewind time just two minutes. If only. . .

Then I woke up.

Words cannot describe my relief when I realized it hadn’t really happened! It was all just a bad dream. I sat up in my bed and said, “Thank you, God! Thank you that I didn’t do that!”

Have you ever had a nightmare like mine — where you did something too horrible for words? Do you remember the relief you felt upon awakening and realizing you hadn’t done it after all?

That feeling is precisely what God is offering us — for real — in today’s Scripture passages.

In the first cluster of verses we read, Peter does something unthinkable. In Jesus’ hour of greatest need, he denies ever knowing Jesus. Imagine, the leading Apostle, the one who’s supposed to set the example for others, denies Jesus! Not just that, but in other Gospel accounts of this same story, we’re told that Peter laced his denial with a few choice curse words — so as to be more convincing. In those other accounts, we’re also told that Jesus saw all this take place.

If we had read the entire story as it unfolds, we would see that, after his denial, Peter seems to give up. He seems to feel that what he’s done disqualifies him from ever serving Jesus again. His famous words of resignation are: “I go fishing.” John 21:3. Peter, who was a fisherman before meeting Jesus, seemed determined to go back to his old occupation.

Then comes the second cluster of verses we read, where Jesus makes a gracious resurrection appearance to Peter. As they converse over breakfast, three times Jesus tells Peter that he still wants him to “feed my sheep.” In other words, Jesus invites Peter to pick up where he left off — as if it never happened. What a profound sense of relief Peter must have felt.

This is grace.

And God offers us the same grace. “If we confess our sins, God if faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9. What awful thing from your past still weighs you down? Isn’t it time to accept the new beginning that God freely offers?

Thought for the day: The only thing that stands between me and complete freedom of conscience is my refusal to believe the greatness of God’s grace. Stop limiting God!

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.