Read Luke 22:31-34, 54-62
Guilty. When some of you read that word no doubt some familiar feelings came over you. You know what it means to feel guilty; to fall into the traps of temptation. The feeling you get when you fail God is something you never wish to experience again; but all too often the enemy reminds you of your past mistakes, causing that familiar feeling to return.
I want to encourage you today as we draw closer to Easter that the cross is an emblem of forgiveness, not condemnation. Don’t get me wrong. I believe when you sin you are guilty and need forgiveness; but I also believe that no one is ever beyond the reach of God’s mercy and grace because of the fact that Jesus built a bridge between God and us with the cross.
One of the greatest illustrations in the Bible concerning rising above our failures is the story of Peter’s denial.
We don’t have time to go into a character sketch of Peter, but take a quick look at his life. He was convinced that Jesus was the Christ. He was very excited about his ability to commit to Christ. But Jesus knew what was in Peter’s heart. He knew that Peter would deny Him three times. He knew that Peter would fall. Jesus warned Peter, yet Peter still thought he would be able to follow Christ even to death. And Peter failed even though he had been warned. No doubt Peter felt as if his failure was the end of the line for him. I imagine that the words of Christ played over and over in his head giving Peter a glimpse of hope: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Not only did Jesus foretell of Peter’s denial, He foretold of Peter’s comeback. He said, “When you are converted, strengthen the other disciples!”
I want you to notice a couple of things about how Jesus approached Peter’s failure:
- He prayed for Peter.
- He pursued Peter.
We have already noted Christ’s intercession for Peter. Check out how He pursued Peter in John 21 by going to the shore where Peter was fishing. There Jesus conversed with Peter, asking him three times the same question – “Peter, do you love me?” – as if He were giving Peter a chance to amend his three denials. Not only did Jesus go to the shore, but Peter was also mentioned specifically when the angel told the women to go and tell the disciples that the tomb was empty and Jesus was risen (Mark 16:7). You can see that Jesus was reaching for Peter even though Peter had fallen.
He brought Peter’s comeback all the way around on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Peter, the man who was a coward in the courtyard on the night of Jesus’ crucifixion, was able to rise up full of the Holy Ghost and preach to thousands about the power of the risen Lord.
I know. I know. Your failures were not the same as Peter’s. Your sin may have been worse in your own eyes. But Jesus wants to forgive you and empower you just the same. Just as Jesus prayed for Peter, He is praying for all of us (Romans 8:27, 34 & Hebrews 7:25). Just as He pursued Peter, He pursues us by leaving us promises such as 1 John 1:9.
The Bible is full of illustrations of comebacks. I’ve had my share of comebacks. Don’t let the enemy tell you that your failure is going to be fatal. Understand, we do not have a license to sin; but we do have an avenue of forgiveness to go down when we do fall. That avenue is the Way. His name is Jesus.
All comments and questions can be submitted to Kenneth Crews via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.