Evan Williams (a Twitter founder and co-founder of Blogger) had high hopes that social media would allow people to express their emotions and opinions on-line. He thought the advent of all these avenues of personal expression would be a good thing in people’s lives. His conclusion now, according to a New York Times article in 2017, “I think the internet is broken!”
The article concludes that people are using Facebook to showcase suicides, beatings and murder in real time. Twitter is a hive of trolling and abuse that Twitter seems unable to stop. Fake news has run rampant. Four out of ten adult internet users report having been harassed online. Williams states, “I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place. I was wrong about that.”
I would argue that Mr. Williams is off on one conclusion… The internet is not broken; people are broken. The internet simply gives huge expression to what God’s Word revealed about us long ago. In many different ways, we are broken. But there is good news. The resurrected Christ can remake anyone whole. He can take the broken parts of life and create something of even greater value, failures and all, scars and all. Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples experienced this truth on an intensely personal basis.
Peter: Broken at the Empty Tomb (John 20:6-8)
On the first Easter Sunday, Mary Magdalene had been to the tomb of Jesus and saw the large stone over the entrance rolled away. She assumed something was wrong and ran back to town and told Peter and John. They sprinted to the tomb. Peter went in first and discovered it was empty.
Not long before Jesus’ death on the cross, Peter denied knowing Him. What makes this denial so bitter is only a couple of days before, Peter swore to Jesus that he would never abandoned Him. Peter was so confident in his unfailing devotion to Jesus that he said even if all the other disciples left Christ on His own, he never would. When it was all said and done, Peter denied Jesus in His greatest moment of need not just once, but three times. On the third betrayal of Christ, one gospel states that Peter’s and Jesus’ eyes met, and Jesus is led away to be falsely accused, brutally abused and crucified. Peter was broken. An empty tomb would not remake him whole, but it was the starting place.
Peter: Remade Whole with the Resurrected Christ (John 21:15-17)
Fast forward in the story from the Gospel of John. Jesus’ body had not been stolen as feared, but He had walked out of the tomb. He is alive! The resurrected Christ had begun making appearances. One such appearance was to Peter and a few of the disciples.
Peter and those disciples after Jesus’ death had gone back to what they knew — fishing. They had fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus, standing on the shore of the lake, yelled for them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. They did. Peter and the disciples then caught so many fish that they could not pull the net into the boat. After rowing the boat with a net full of fish in tow, Peter recognized that it was Christ! Peter jumped out and waded to shore to greet the resurrected Christ.
After sharing a meal, Jesus focused on Peter in an effort to restore the one who carried the heavy burden of his guilt. Peter’s denial of Jesus was not just a personal failure, but a very public one. All the disciples knew about it. In fact, Peter’s denial of Jesus is one of the few events in the life of Christ recorded in all four gospels. Peter was broken.
Jesus asked Peter the same question three times: “Simon son of John, do you truly love Me?” Peter answered yes all three times and was “hurt” the third time Jesus asked the same question. Facing his brokenness, we see three important things about being remade whole:
1) The process of being remade whole: Why would Jesus ask Peter the same questions three times? It is simple: Peter denied Christ three times. Jesus was walking Peter through each failure and assuring him that the death and resurrection of Christ was more than enough to cover any failures in Peter’s life. Peter was forgiven.
2) The experience of being remade whole: The third time Jesus asked the question, “Peter was hurt”. This expression of “hurt” means to be placed under distress, sorrow or grief. Facing his brokenness was a painful experience for Peter, but that was the path he had to take in order to be remade whole. Acknowledging your brokenness has to come before Christ can do what only He is capable of doing — remake you whole.
3) Jesus’ purpose behind remaking us whole: Each time Peter answered Jesus’ question, Jesus then followed up with a calling on Peter’s life: “Feed My lambs” (v. 15); “Take care of My sheep” (v.16); and “Feed My sheep” (v. 17). Jesus’ purpose behind remaking Peter was to give Peter a new life to live, and a purpose from God.
As with Peter, the resurrected Christ can take the broken pieces of your life and remake you whole. It’s natural for us to minimize or deny those broken places; our world gives us many reasons and behaviors to cover them up. But it is only when we face the reality of our brokenness that we can experience Christ remaking us whole and giving us new purpose.
John 20:6-8; 21:15-17
“Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.”
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love Me more than these?’ ‘Yes Lord,’ he said, ‘You know that I love You.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed My lambs.’ Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love Me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, You know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of My sheep.’ The third time He said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time. ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed My sheep.’”