Being the word nerd that I am, I like to know the etymology of words and sayings. I've heard the saying, "Third time's the charm" since I was very little. Yes, it often takes three (or more) tries to get something right, but where did this little phrase come from?
Some word theologians believe that "Third time's the charm," or "Third time lucky" originated in this quote of Shakespeare's from "The Merry Wives of Windsor".
"Pr'ythee, no more prattling:- go. I'll hold: this is the third time; I hope good luck lies in odd numbers. Away, go; they say there is divinity in odd numbers, either in nativity, chance, or death. - Away."
I could go on and on about the different thoughts about three times being lucky in a myriad of historic events. Personally, I go with the thought that this phrase has something to do with the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). When you start to look at the number of times the number "three" shows up in scripture you easily lose track.
My first thoughts were of Jesus - And on the third day He arose from the dead.
Next, I thought of Peter and Jesus prophesying that he would deny Christ three times. Right on cue, Peter does, in fact, deny Christ three times before the rooster crows.
Here are some stories of "three's" that I was not as equally familiar with. In John 21, Jesus makes His third appearance to the disciples after He has risen from the dead.
The disciples are tired after a full night of fishing and having caught nothing. I can just see them, despondent and weary, hauling in their nets and equipment and knowing they won't eat that day, when Jesus happens upon the scene.
"Men," Jesus called to them, "you don't have any fish, do you?" "No," they answered. (John 21:5)
Jesus proceeds to tell the exhausted men to put out once again and cast their nets on the right side of the boat - assuring them that they'll get some fish. Reluctantly they obey - all the while wondering who is this guy? Their nets are full and tearing as they haul the huge catch on board the small boat.
Once on the shore, Jesus takes the bread and the fish and gives it to the disciples and finally, the light bulb goes on in John's brain.
Third time's the charm....on the third appearance, the disciples finally know that this is the Lord that they love.
Jesus, as only Jesus can do, sets about restoring what has been broken so He turns to Peter who had denied Him three times before He was crucified and He asks:
"Simon Peter, son of John, do you love Me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said to Him, "You know that I love You."
"Feed My lambs," Jesus told him.
This back and forth questioning goes on two more times. Jesus asks twice more if Peter loves Him.
Jesus' restoration of Peter takes three times of Him asking Peter about His love for Him and three times Jesus commands Peter to go then and shepherd His sheep.
I love how things can be torn down in groups of three: The three denials by Peter, three days dead from crucifixion, three strikes and you're out.
But, God uses threes to restore and redeem: Three days then resurrected from the dead, three appearances to the disciples and they call Him "Lord", threefold questioning of Peter about His love.
I love Peter....he's a bit of a screw up, but Jesus tells this doubter and betrayer that not only is he forgiven, but that He (Jesus) is going to build His church on Peter's shoulders. He even calls Peter the "rock" on which His church will be built.
Wow! Talk about being given another chance.
I'd definitely say that "Third time's the charm for Peter".
Third time's the charm for us. Jesus went to His death, descended into hell, and on the THIRD day, He arose from the grave so that we would never have to worry that we could strike out on His grace and mercy.
God commands us to forgive 70 X 7 and He will forgive us an infinite number of times if we repent of our sins. We're not limited to three because this member of the Trinity has paid the price for our sins for us. His grace and mercy will never run out. We can't out run his love and we can't disappoint Him or alienate His love for us. It's simply not possible.
So thankful for this third person of the Trinity who makes eternal life possible and the abundant life attainable.
What about you? Do you feel like you've struck out with God? Do you ever feel like Peter - having denied Christ and perhaps He's given up on you? How have you seen Jesus' redeeming power in your own life?
Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you because you are not a "three strikes and you're out" kind of Father. Your mercy and love for us is endless. So much so that you gave your only Son to literally go through hell for three days so that I could be restored unto You forever. I ask you for forgiveness of my sins and claim your promise that if I confess my sins you will remove them from me and purify me with Christ's righteousness. Help me not to heap guilt upon myself because You surely don't. The price has been paid. The days of striking out are finished. In Jesus precious name I pray, Amen.