The Daily Office | February 21, 2018
Collect: The First Sunday in Lent
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations, and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect: Ember Days
O God, you led your holy apostles to ordain ministers in every place: Grant that your Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may choose suitable persons for the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and may uphold them in their work for the extension of your kingdom; through him who is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Many of us may not know this instinctively, but Peter’s denials of Christ were a very big deal. What’s worse than denying your Lord? In fact, Jesus says in Matthew 10:33, “whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” This seems like a pretty open and shut case: there’s no coming back from denying Christ!
But we know that this isn’t the end of the story. After the resurection, Jesus asks Peter one question, three times: “Do you love me?” And Peter couldn’t speak up fast enough: “Of course! You know I love you.”
The parallelism between these two passages is striking. Three times Peter denies Jesus; three times Jesus gives Peter the chance to declare his love and obedience to him. What we see here is a full restoration of the relationship between Jesus and Peter. His sin is removed from him, as far as the east is from the west.
In Lent, we’re supposed to spend time reflecting on our sin, on the ways in which we daily participate in death and destruction. But it would be wrong of us to do this without hope. Peter, who committed one of the gravest sins imaginable, was fully reconciled with his Lord. His sin was dealt with on the cross—and so is ours. There is nothing we have done or could ever do that could separate us from the love of our Lord. Thanks be to God.