All the apostles had forsaken him. In the garden, at his most sorrowful hour, “They all left him and fled” (Mark 14:50).
Now he was raised. What would he say to those who had abandoned him? Three healing things:
1. To Mary at the tomb: “Go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17)
“Brothers!” “Your Father!” “Your God!” I am going now. You will come later. We are, and we will be, together. I forgive you. Our Father forgives you.
2. He finds the apostles, stands among them, and says, “Peace be with you.” He showed them his hands and his side — horrible reminders of what it cost him when they forsook him. And he says again. “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19–21)
“Peace!” Not “Shame!” I forgive you. I take you back. I entrust you with my mission: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
3. To Peter, three times: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” And to his three positive answers, Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” “Tend my sheep.” “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15–17)
I have not given up on you, Peter. You are a shepherd of my sheep. Do you recall that I prayed for you? I told you what was coming. I never let you go. My command was a promise: “When you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32)
Jesus was eager to repair the damage that had been done. Eager to forgive, restore, recommission. If you have forsaken him, let him down, offended him, take heart, he is not less eager to repair things with you. Seek his face. Ask him. Receive his grace.