Not all healing is physical healing.
Some of our deepest wounds and most profound regrets are relational.
Many people have felt the searing pains of betrayal and abuse at the hands of someone who ‘loves’ us. Many people have felt the isolation of neglect, being overlooked by those whom we’ve loved and cared for.
Many of us, in turn, have made mistakes and treated others poorly. Maybe we acted selfishly. Maybe we lied. Maybe we broke a promise.
Unfortunately, when relationships break… they sometimes remain broken and unfixable. I’m sure we all have a story about a relationship broken, a person lost to us, and there’s no opportunity left to make amends or healing.
The big picture story of the Good News of Jesus is that, through our sin (self-centered action) our relationship with God is broken and lost to us… and we are powerless to fix it. Enter Jesus, God’s very own self (who took on flesh and dwelt among us as John 1 says), with a grace-filled, unending love… and a plan to reconcile us to God. His sacrifice on the cross shows the length, breadth, and depth of God’s willingness to heal the broken relationship. He asks in return… for our faith, our hope, and our love.
In John 21, we see how this plays out in the personal relationship between Peter and Jesus. By rights, this should be an irretrievably broken relationship. Peter promised to be faithful and stay with Jesus through thick or thin. But, when it got thick, he not only deserted Jesus, but also actually denied him… 3 times!
Now, Jesus has been raised and returns to confront Peter on the matter. And, he does so with grace, love, and healing… giving an opportunity to fix what was broken:
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21:15-19)
Three times Jesus asks, “do you love me”. Three times Peter answers “yes Lord, you know I love you”. This to give Peter a chance to ‘redo’ his three denials. Then, the commissioning for work in Jesus’ name. Certainly only someone whose relationship with Jesus is healthy and whole would be entrusted with such tasks:
Feed my lambs
Tend my sheep
Feed my sheep
Moreover, Jesus knows, Peter will not only always remain faithful to Jesus but will also actually face hardship and suffering on account of that fidelity. Of course, Jesus always remained faithful to Peter and to all of us. Even when he faced the hardship and suffering of the cross.
And so, we too should profess again our love for Jesus and commit again to faithfulness in our relationship with him. Our relationship with him is never too far gone or too much broken to be healed!