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Mercy and Grace on Display

11.13.2023

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Introduction

When it came to Peter, Jesus was definitely going to trust him to do big things in the future.

This is part one of an excerpt from Louie Giglio’s book The Comeback.


Peter was going to be the cornerstone of the early church, and Jesus knew that about Peter. But Jesus also knew that Peter wasn’t ready for that responsibility until Peter knew that Jesus was the real cornerstone. Peter needed to be completely clear on that idea. As long as Peter believed it all depended on him, then Jesus couldn’t use him. Peter needed to depend on Jesus first.

Here’s this same truth taught earlier in John’s gospel. Jesus said,

Apart from me, you can do nothing. . . . If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (15:5–7)

Peter had forgotten that. He’d tried to do things his way. He’d denied Jesus. He’d fished all night and caught nothing. But Jesus was teaching this same truth to Peter all over again. Jesus was saying, “You went out and did your thing, but that didn’t work. Yet if I just speak one word and point my finger in one direction, and you follow me and my timing and my ways and put the net down where I say put the net down, then look—the net is full of fish.” 

News flash: this is our same invitation today. It’s when we fall on our knees and say, “Jesus, you’re the vine and we’re the branches. What do you want me to do? Where do you want me to put down the net? Where do you want me to go? How do you want me to speak? What do you want me to be a part of? Whatever you say, Lord, because that’s the good stuff. Apart from you, I can’t do anything. So am I fishing in the right place today, Jesus? Am I sowing the right seeds right? Am I investing in the right person? All I want to do is follow you, because apart from you, I can do nothing.”

When the disciples landed on shore, they saw a fire with fish on it and some bread. Jesus already had breakfast going for them. Don’t you just love a campfire on a beach? It’s in this environment of gentle wood smoke and crackling warmth and relaxed vibrancy that Jesus began to speak to Peter. And what Jesus didn’t say was just as important as what he did. Jesus didn’t commend Peter on a fantastic swim from the boat. Jesus didn’t chew out Peter for denying him in the high priest’s courtyard. Jesus didn’t rebuke Peter in any way for failing him.

Jesus simply invited Peter to breakfast.

Whenever we’ve had a long night of nothing, that’s what Jesus does for us too. Jesus asks simply, “You guys want to eat?”

There’s no lecture. No condemnation. No rebuke. There’s just acceptance. And provision. And a kind of familiarity that only Jesus can provide. “Anybody hungry?” Jesus asks. “Let’s eat.”

That, my friends, is mercy and grace on display. It’s the gospel, and it’s the gospel repeated. It’s the gospel when we need it the first time, and it’s the gospel when we need it the second time, and it’s the gospel when we need it the fiftieth time and the three hundredth time and the ten thousandth time. Jesus serves us in our emptiness. Jesus feeds us after we’ve let ourselves and him down. Jesus welcomes us near and says, “Hello, you look tired and scared and bewildered and beat down and exhausted and burned out and like you’re about to go under. Would you like some breakfast?”

And then Jesus served his disciples. He served them like he serves us. Can I tell you what this is all about? It’s about the disciples and you and me losing this idea that we are going to do anything for God. It’s about our receiving the idea that God does everything for us and through us. Jesus is alive and loves us and has a purpose and a plan for our lives, no matter what.

After a long night of nothing, after we fail him, this is the sum total of what we’re going to hear from him: “Good morning. Come, have breakfast with me. I’ve got a fire going with some tasty barbecued fish and fresh warm bread, just like you like it.

Come, sit down and eat with me, have fellowship with me. Let me feed you and provide for you what you need for this day to come. I am the breakfast for you, because I am life and strength for you. I’m grace for you. I’m power for you. I’m mercy for you. I’m everything you need. I’m here, and I’ve got it all prepared.

Would you like some breakfast?”

The story isn’t over yet. When Peter and Jesus finished breakfast, Jesus invited Peter for a walk and asked him some questions. Actually, Jesus had only one question for Peter. But he asked it three times.

Do you love me?

Jesus started by asking it slightly differently. He said, “Do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15). Some scholars think Jesus was referring to the boat and nets and Peter’s former way of living, but that’s not the most logical way to interpret the question. It’s more likely that Jesus was hitting Peter with a question Peter could well understand. You see, Peter was always trying to raise himself above the other disciples. Peter always wanted to be first. He always wanted to position himself as Jesus’ go-to guy. So Jesus was asking him, “When it comes to loving me, are you first?”

Peter didn’t back down. He said, “Lord, you know I do.” And Jesus did. He knew that Peter truly did love him. He knew that Peter was a work in progress, and for all Peter’s mistakes, love was still there. Jesus knew that under all of Peter’s bold, brash proclamations, Peter really did love him wholeheartedly, mistakes and all.

So why did Jesus ask the question three times? The more times Jesus asked the same question, the more frustrated Peter became. You see, Jesus didn’t want Peter to be confident in Peter and in the answers he gave. Jesus wanted Peter to be confident in God and in God’s presence within Peter.

The second time Jesus asked Peter the question, Jesus told him to feed his sheep. And the final time Jesus asked Peter the question, he said the same thing, “Feed my sheep.” In other words, Jesus was telling Peter to build his church. Jesus was telling Peter that he wasn’t disqualified just because he blew it.

Did you catch that? Because that’s what I want to say to Brandon, the disillusioned bread truck driver, and to myself and to all of us who’ve ever wondered if we’re ever going to have a comeback.

We’re not out.

We’re not out because the thing we need most is not to be perfect but to be in love with Jesus. 

Oh, I can hear the objections already—and some of them are valid. Sure, there are consequences to our decisions, and Scripture says that whatever we sow, we’re going to reap. There are consequences for letting ourselves down and for letting Jesus down. Maybe you’ve made some terrible choices in your past, and now you’re living with the consequences of those choices. Those consequences are real and there is no magic eraser to remove them.

Guess what? Grace is more powerful than consequences. Grace overwhelms consequences. Even with consequences, there is love and grace and the mercy of God in Christ. Jesus says to us, “I know you messed up, and I know there are consequences, but I want to walk with you through the consequences. I want to love you through the consequences. And I even want to use the consequences in this whole big story.”

I don’t know the specifics of your story. Maybe your consequences will be miraculously removed or healed or pardoned or restored or smoothed over. Or maybe your story is that God will use you mightily to speak truth and life to people who are experiencing the same consequences as you. The good news is that those consequences don’t dictate your life. God is bigger than any consequences. Even if you’ve denied Christ, he will still serve you breakfast. He will still serve you mercy and love. He will still use you to build his church.

I love how the Bible promises that God’s faithfulness is great and his mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). That means Jesus’ breakfast is served and served and served and served and served and served and served again and again. It doesn’t matter whatever your night of nothing was about, there is new mercy available every morning. And the meal comes first. Breakfast is served before any problems are sorted out. Mercy is served as the first course. Jesus is saying to all of us that nothing will ever divide us from his love. That includes our failures.

The gospel of grace can feel absolutely scandalous. When we’re put face-to-face with the gospel of grace, it seems too good to be true. We think there must be some judgment or punishment or condemnation or court of law or fine we need to pay or ton of bricks to fall on our head. But there isn’t. All the condemnation already went on Jesus. All the penalties were removed by Christ. All that’s left is breakfast on the beach.

Come and eat, my friends. Come and eat.


If you want to keep reading from The Comeback, click here to grab a copy of this special resource.

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Scripture References

  • John 15:5-7
  • John 21:15
  • Lamentations 3:23
Louie Giglio

Global Pastor

Louie Giglio Louie Giglio is the Visionary Architect and Director of the Passion Movement, comprised of Passion Conferences, Passion City Church, Passion Publishing and sixstepsrecords, and the founder of Passion Institute.