I’m always amazed how kind and gentle Jesus is to his friends on this particular morning — the same friends who fell asleep, cowered, ran away, denied him in his darkest hour. These men, like me, were weak and unworthy disciples.
But Jesus doesn’t scold them, guilt them, or abandon them, although their sins and failures were fresh. Instead, he speaks words of peace, works a miracle, makes them breakfast, and gives them the chance to profess their love for him again. He’s calm, loving, and forgiving in response to their weakness — a beautiful picture of how Jesus deals with us each and every day.
Then he said, “Follow me.”
This is the kind of Friend I want to follow always. This is Jesus, to whom I sing: “O make me thine forever, and should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to thee.”
“Do not disbelieve, but believe.” The words that the risen Christ spoke to Thomas so often speak to me — the simplicity, the truth, the conviction, the encouragement.
Yesterday was a day when everything I did seemed to be born from disbelief, a lack of faith. Jesus’ words helped me to confess and seek reconciliation with the God I love and yet so often refuse to BELIEVE in the midst of stress and worry.
Again: “Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
In response, Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God!” This is my answer, too. I can’t make up for yesterday; I can only turn to my Lord and my God to forgive, cleanse, restore.
I’ve often identified with Peter, who denied the very man he said he would die for. I know the pain of being unfaithful to my dearest friend. I know the feeling of going from devotee to deserter, sometimes within minutes. It’s a strange sort of comfort, this solidarity with Peter. The failure itself doesn’t comfort me; it’s knowing the next part of the story. There’s joy in the end, because Christ doesn’t abandon Peter.
Of course, we have to skip ahead to know that, for Peter had no time to make peace with Jesus before his crucifixion. When Christ died, hope was lost for Peter, left alone with his guilt, not knowing the end, not knowing there would be a chance to reconcile with his truest friend.
Knowing the end is the only way to find joy in the story of Peter’s denial. Knowing that not even death — not even Christ’s death — could keep Peter from the love of God, who stands ready and willing to forgive.
Praise God, his heart is the same toward us today.