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Of Saints and Sinners

The third time [Jesus] said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” . . . [Peter] said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” John 21:17

Before she followed in the footsteps of John the Baptist by living in the desert, Mary of Egypt (c. ad 344–421) spent her youth pursuing illicit pleasures and seducing men. At the height of her sordid career, she journeyed to Jerusalem in an attempt to corrupt pilgrims. Instead, she experienced deep conviction of her sins and thereafter lived a life of repentance and solitude in the wilderness. Mary’s radical transformation illustrates the magnitude of God’s grace and the restoring power of the cross.

The disciple Peter denied Jesus three times. Only hours before the denials, Peter had declared his willingness to die for Jesus (Luke 22:33), so the realization of his failure was a crushing blow (vv. 61–62). After Jesus’s death and resurrection, Peter was fishing with some of the disciples when Jesus appeared to them. Jesus gave Peter a chance to declare his love for Him three times—one for each of his denials (John 21:1–3). Then, with each declaration, Jesus charged Peter to care for His people (vv. 15–17). The result of this stunning display of grace was that Peter played a key role in building the church and ultimately gave his life for Christ.

A biography of any one of us could begin with a litany of our failures and defeats. But God’s grace always allows for a different ending. By His grace, He redeems and transforms us.

In what ways have you experienced God’s transforming grace? How can you express His grace toward others?

God’s grace transforms us from sinners to saints.


Jesus warned Peter that Satan had asked permission to test him and that Peter would falter in his faith (Luke 22:31–34). He cautioned Peter again before His arrest: “Watch and pray. . . . The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). When Jesus was arrested, all the disciples fled. But Peter and John had a change of heart and followed Jesus to the high priest’s house and were allowed to enter because John was “known to the high priest” (vv. 56–58; John 18:15–16). In the courtyard, Peter mingled with the high priest’s servants. There he crumbled under pressure and denied Christ three times (Luke 22:54–61). Years later, writing from his own failure, Peter warns us: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

K. T. Sim

By |2019-04-24T12:14:00-04:00April 30th, 2019|
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