Forgiven and Restored
After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter’s path to being filled with the Holy Spirit begins with Jesus’ in John 21:15-19:
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Before the crucifixion, Peter–who had earlier lobbed off a soldier’s ear with a sword–denied Jesus not once but three times. The other disciples, too, had taken to hiding in a locked room; but Peter had actively denied Jesus three times in the space of one night. After the resurrection, though, Jesus forgave Peter and “reinstated” his apostleship.
Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, and three times, Peter affirmed his love for Christ. With the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to come, Peter would no longer selfishly seek his own comfort; rather, Peter would boldly proclaim Christ as the risen Lord and Savior. Peter would even die for his Lord. Church tradition teaches that Peter was crucified in Rome. Peter, however, requested to be crucified upside down; he did not think himself worthy to be crucified upright as his Lord had been. (The Romans, of course, obliged.)
This episode between Christ’s resurrection and ascension gives us hope and comfort today. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-9), but God forgives us our sins by the blood of Christ. Even though we all deny Jesus like Peter did–if not in word then in action–He forgives us and empowers us by His Holy Spirit to love Him and boldly proclaim His gospel to the nations.