Peter replying to Jesus - John 21:17
The resurrection of Jesus disturbed his closest followers. Their joy was tempered by bewilderment and pain; the reality that death was a necessary precursor to resurrection. This new resurrection way of living entails confronting past mistakes and death to an old way of life. For Peter this was particularly challenging as, just before Jesus was crucified, he shamefully denied Jesus three times. Once Jesus has risen, Peter has to affirm Jesus three times but it’s not easy, “Peter felt hurt because [Jesus] said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’” Peter is taken back to the painful anguish of his denial in order to move from despair to hope, from darkness to light. It’s no wonder that the pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer refers to the danger of cheap grace. God’s grace, or forgiveness, is never cheap as it means we have to confront and turn away from our failings and the pain we cause. This is the true meaning of repentance, literally to change our mind or inner nature, to live in a new way.
We have Biblical pictures referring to this fundamental and very personal change. Jesus tells us that we should take the plank out of our own eye so that we can see the splinter in the eye of our sister or brother. That is, we need to stop projecting what is damaging within ourselves onto others and confront our own destructive behaviour. St. Paul draws on a Greek tradition and says, “In him we live and move and have our being”, to point to the need to be completely God orientated. He also tells the church in Rome that, “all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death”. Thus we are buried and raised with him. To this day, baptism is a simulated drowning allowing a new person to emerge.
The celebration of Easter morning is enriched if we have commemorated the anguish and confusion of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, and the pain and humiliation of the Crucifixion on Good Friday. To enter the depths with Christ is to be raised with him; to confront our own sinful nature is to experience forgiveness and the joy, like Peter, of our true potential being realised.
Wishing you a joyful and blessed Easter