“Forgiveness–undeserved, unearned–can cut the cords and let the oppressive burden of guilt roll away. The New Testament shows a resurrected Jesus leading Peter by the hand through a three-fold ritual of forgiveness. Peter need not go through life with the guilty, hangdog look of one who has betrayed the Son of God. Oh, no. On the backs of such transformed sinners Christ would build his church.”
Yancy is alluding to is John 21:15-17. Earlier, when Jesus was taken to be crucified, Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times out of fear. He then ran and wept uncontrollably. In this passage, Jesus, now crucified and risen from the dead, guides Peter into professing his his love for Jesus three times. The other passage is Matthew 16:17, where Jesus tells Peter that he is a rock, and that Jesus would build His church–His kingdom–on Peter. I love the connection between Peter’s sin, transformation, and reception of grace with this passage in Matthew. The church is built on grace, which comes from God. We are all sinners, and without pardon from the Lord, there would be no church.