Editor’s note: Hope is easy to lose and hard to find, but there is never a season when hope is out of reach. Every Christian eventually has her hope broken, but that isn’t the end of the road. As we learn to keep hoping in Jesus and put that hope to work, our impact for the Kingdom truly takes off. Enjoy this excerpt of Sarah Jakes Roberts’ book All Hope Is Found.
There are quite a few stories in the Bible that move me deeply. They usually center on characters who struggled to reclaim their identity and connection with God after disappointing themselves or others. Peter is one of those characters whose story resonates with my own. He was minding his business when Jesus approached him with a job opportunity. Low-key, Jesus’ initial pitch would’ve sounded like a multilevel marketing scheme if we heard it today — a little far-fetched but also undeniably intriguing.
Peter was a fisherman. This was a common and straightforward profession at the time. But when Jesus approached Peter and his brother Andrew while they were fishing, He didn’t lure them with promises of power, riches, or fame. Jesus simply told them,
Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. — Matthew 4:19
It turned out that Peter wasn’t just a good fisherman; he was an incredible follower of Jesus. Peter was a rock star disciple and immediately became a part of Jesus’ inner circle. Jesus had twelve disciples, but did you know that even among the Twelve there were three men He held especially near?
- Peter was a part of that inner circle of three, and he bore witness to irrefutable evidence of Jesus as the Son of God.
I love that Jesus took what Peter already knew well and introduced a purpose that would build upon that. When God begins to reveal how you can serve what He’s doing in the earth, it won’t require you to be someone you’re not.
God will not call you to something that your history has not prepared you for in some way.
Peter was the first disciple to be affirmed in his ability to hear directly from God long before the Holy Spirit visited the upper room on the day of Pentecost. This moment occurred when Jesus asked His disciples who they said He was. Peter answered,
You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. — Matthew 16:16
His response prompted Jesus to affirm him in his identity and to grant him more access, trust, and authority than any other disciple. Jesus told Peter,
Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven. — Matthew 16:17–19
One would think that, with all that affirmation, Peter would’ve been the one disciple Jesus could count on no matter what. Well, one would be wrong because the moment the kitchen got hot, Peter got ghost. (Sorry about that; my roots started showing in the last sentence.) Essentially, when Jesus was arrested and facing persecution, Peter was not just nowhere to be found; he denied knowing Jesus altogether. Three times!
When Jesus was resurrected and needed to inform the disciples, He had an angel reveal the news to the two women at His tomb. The angel said,
Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples — and Peter — that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you. — Mark 16:6–7
Isn’t it powerful that when it was time for Jesus to gather the disciples, the angel specifically said Peter’s name? This isn’t special treatment. It’s because Peter was so disappointed with himself that he no longer considered himself a disciple. The fisher of men had gone back to just being a fisherman.
When Rome apprehended, tortured, and then crucified Jesus, it seemed that they had been successful at squelching His impact. Even the disciples were scared into stagnancy. The finality of His body being placed in the tomb seemed to signal that all hope had been lost. His resurrection should have been the moment when faith was restored and the mission continued.
Based on Peter’s love for Jesus, I’m sure the resurrection produced relief and shame: relief that his Friend was alive and the gospel would continue to spread, but also a deep shame from denying Jesus that prevented Peter from returning to the position he once held. Regardless of how unworthy he may have felt when Jesus was resurrected, Jesus still called for Peter to meet Him in Galilee.
- Even when we back away, we serve a God who doesn’t mind calling us back.
Jesus’ exchange with Peter in John 21 wasn’t a conversation for closure or a mea culpa from Peter. Instead, it was Jesus challenging Peter to overcome his previous mistakes and failures and to channel the hope of the resurrection toward serving what matters the most to Jesus.
The hope we extract from our past changes our perspective, but it’s not until we put our hope to work that we partner with God to bring pieces of Heaven to earth. It’s not enough to hold hope within. You have to actively seek ways to spread hope in all that you do.
If you’re going to leave a lasting impression, how can you make sure that it’s not about making yourself look good but rather leaving the moment more hopeful than it was before you entered?
Excerpted with permission from All Hope Is Found by Sarah Jakes Roberts, copyright Sarah Jakes Roberts.
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Have you disappointed yourself? Do you feel like you’ve disappointed God? It’s not the end of your story. God is calling you to overcome your mistakes and failures and keep shining for Him. What He gives us — hope — is ours to give to others! ~ Devotionals Daily