How do you pick up the pieces when you’ve blown it so very badly?
Peter was devastated by his thrice denial of Jesus. Even after Jesus was raised from the dead, and Peter had met him twice in the flesh, Peter was still thinking, “What must He think of me!?”
For those of us who know what it is to fail the ones we love, we can understand how desperately Peter wanted to open up to Jesus; and yet he couldn’t just bring it up. Jesus, in His mercy and kindness, brings it up for Peter.
For those of us who have failed and let down those we love, this passage from John 21 is for us. We’ll discover three things:
- The Danger of Relapse: Jesus never gives up on failures like us. Peter may have given up on himself, but Jesus never gave up on Peter. There is always more mercy in Christ than sin in us.
- The Grace of Repentance: Repentance is the tough grace that sets us free. It’s a tough grace that presses our hearts to repentance. We instinctively resist opening at every turn, but repentance is the only way to be free, it’s the only way to heal. Peter had denied Jesus three times, and so three times Jesus asks penetrating questions. Jesus presses deeper, exposing the deadliness of Peter’s self-confidence, and helping him confess out loud how very inadequate he really was. As Peter admits to the inadequacy of his own love for Christ, he is set free from a life of egotistical self-reliance. Peter, who used to think he had to prove himself to be somebody, discovers that the only thing that really matters in the end, is to be loved by Jesus.
- The Beauty of Redemption: Brokenness is a prerequisite for usefulness. When Peter felt strongest, he was least useful. But when Peter felt weakest, he was greatly useful. Our greatest ministry is often rooted in our deepest wounds. God takes our misery and turns it into our ministry…because He is the Great Redeemer. Jesus takes each one of us as we are—underserving, inadequate, broken, and sinful—and in His mercy He redeems us, transforms us, and empowers us to be useful for His eternal glory and our everlasting joy. In the grace of God, we need not hid from our brokenness, for it is a prerequisite for our usefulness to God.
Takeaway: In the love of Jesus there is abundant hope for our stories.
No matter what you’ve done, no matter what you’ve become, no matter what’s been done to you, Jesus never gives up on failures like us. There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.