"They even carried the sick out into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he came by."
Just a week ago it was Good Friday and we were hearing about Peter's three-fold betrayal of Jesus.
Now this reading from Acts tells us that Peter was mediating so much power that people were hauling the sick into the streets so his shadow might fall over them and bring healing.
Quite a change. How did it happen? Different gospels offer different stories of Peter's transformation from fearful to bold, from one who betrayed to one who is powerfully faithful.
Maybe "how" this transformation of Peter happened is less important than that it did happen. Change can happen. There are second chances. There are new beginnings. For Peter and for us. By the grace of God.
The hard path to new life means coming clean about our fears, failures and betrayals. It involves facing (as Peter did) the one we have betrayed. Doing so, Peter surrendered himself into Jesus' power and Jesus' hands.
And he found, as many have since, that these hands are good and loving and the powerful agent of deep change.
Jesus was not, however, sentimental with Peter. He didn't coddle or excuse. But he did forgive him saying, "There's important work for you to do . . . feed my sheep."
Which is to say - your future possibilities are more important than your past failures. Face them, tell the truth, and receive power for a whole new and better life in which you - yes you! - are an instrument of God's healing power.
Holy One, thank you for the old story that is always new. There is grace for our failures, there is mercy for our betrayals. Amen.
Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul's Letters to Timothy for a New Day, and he is also the author of the just-published Book of Exodus: A God is still speaking Bible Study. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at www.anthonybrobinson.com by clicking on Weekly Reading.