“Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.'” — John 21:12
Think back to a time in your life when you were truly hurt by someone, maybe even to the point of feeling betrayed — a friend, family member or stranger. This could have happened 10 years ago or 10 minutes ago.
What was your first response? In your mind, sending that person in a crate to the Bermuda Triangle was probably the best solution. In person, maybe you gave them a cold shoulder, held a grudge, gossiped about them, or verbally attacked them.
But did you ever consider … frying them some fish? Let’s backtrack.
Jesus’ crucifixion recorded in every Gospel is heartbreaking in itself, but the reality of abandonment by his best friends adds a whole new layer to the situation. Just before Jesus was handed over to the Roman soldiers to be arrested and taken for trial, He had one final meal with his disciples — his best friends.
Upon leaving, Jesus announced the depressing prophecy that all of these brothers He had lived life with for three-plus years would betray Him. Peter, perhaps His closest friend, immediately denied the prediction, saying he would die for his mentor. Yet hours later, Peter denied ever even knowing Jesus, and ran away as his leader and best friend was led off to be slaughtered.
Then a few days later, Peter laid out in a boat, likely pondering where in the world his life was headed. Everything he had entrusted and put hope into had vanished, and he likely blamed himself for allowing it to happen. But then, he looks up. He sees him — Jesus. The man he allowed to be murdered a few days prior. He jumps out of the … well, let’s let the story tell itself:
“When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’” — John 21:9-12
Jesus was alive and well. He hadn’t suffered amnesia and forgotten what Peter had done. He remembered it fully, and chose what is so hard to do in moments of betrayal and hurt: He sacrificed revenge and justice to show grace toward His brother.
Does this mean Jesus never felt the hurt? Of course not. Did He harbor bitterness internally and just put a smile on His face? Never. He gave an example of how to forgive one another, not thinking that payback, a snarky comment or passive aggressiveness would do the trick. He absorbed the hurt, abandonment and betrayal to show grace.
Why? Because that’s what true love is — a sacrifice of one’s sense of self-pride in order to make a deeper connection with someone.
How do you respond to betrayal? We are called to forgive because the Lord forgave us (Colossians 3:13). Hurt will still be present, but we don’t need to harbor bitterness any longer. The cure is the extending of grace.
— Chris Pennington
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