Jesus forgives. Isn’t that what we are taught all our lives? If you have ever taught Sunday school you know when kids shoot their hands up to answer a question, they usually shout one of three things: Jesus!! The cross!! Forgiveness!!
So why is it so hard to believe in our adult hearts that Jesus actually does forgive us? We think there’s no way God could use someone like us now with all we’ve done. So, we give our past sin more life than God’s mercy. We hold on to it. We are ashamed of it. We hide it or pull away from God.
I wonder if that’s how Peter felt after he denied Jesus three times. (see John 18) He knew he had messed up. As much as he loved Jesus, he had let his fear take over and had denied even knowing his Lord multiple times. In his mind it was all over. How could God want to use someone like Peter now? So he backed off of the discipleship course, went back to the family business as a fisherman, and was most likely feeling the same things we feel when we think we have let God down– ashamed, defeated, and broken hearted.
Open those bibles and turn to John 18. Read how Jesus kept his cool when he was arrested. He knew the arrest and crucifixion were coming because it was the whole reason He came. He was ready to do His Father’s will no matter the cost. Jesus was able to be perfectly faithful in every word and every action because He is one with the Father. Peter, on the other hand, was scared out of his little human mind. He cut off someone’s ear. He denied Jesus. Then he gave up and headed home in defeat. Sound familiar?
I have felt that defeat in so many ways. So many times I have felt like I let God down and have chosen to believe the lie that I am not worthy of serving the Lord anymore. I still wrestle with sin everyday, I hate my sin, but I’m not willing to be stuck in it anymore. I want out and I want Jesus– Peter did too.
Last time we heard Jesus’ original words to Peter when Jesus called him, “Come, follow me” (see Mark 1:16-20). Perhaps even more beautiful, is that those words were still true, the invitation was still good, even after Peter messed up.
Take a few minutes and read John chapter 21.
Peter did what he knew how to do. He went fishing. Of course he didn’t catch a thing on his own. But when Jesus shows up, he instructs the disciples to put the net on the right side of the boat. And “when they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” (John 21:6)
It is then that the disciples realize the man standing on the shore is Jesus. Can you imagine Peter’s joy seeing the face of his Lord once again? What happens next is just so beautiful.
“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as SimonPeter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat…” John 21:7-8
Don’t you want to jump out of the boat and swim to Jesus?? I do. So very much. I want to jump out of all the boats of doubt and fear and sin and guilt and swim to Jesus just like Peter. I want to leave them all behind and see what Jesus has to say about it all. See how He can piece me back together again and use me even though I am flawed like He does Peter.
They eat breakfast with Jesus, we can only imagine their joy as they sit with their Savior, and then….
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “feed my lambs.” (John 21:15)
Jesus asks Peter this question three times canceling out the three times Peter denied Christ. Isn’t that amazing? Christ does forgive even what we think is unforgivable, if we love Jesus and desire him to forgive it. And in that forgiveness we find some of the most simple but beautiful words our Savior has spoken.
“…Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (vs 19)
Jump out of the boat today. Trust in the forgiveness and renewal found in Christ. And know He still wants to use you for His glory. Sometimes this seems like a daily routine–asking God to forgive and trusting He can work something good out of our messes. But He can and He will if we desire it and follow Him again through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The invitation is still there. Time to RSVP.
- How do you see yourself in Peter’s story? What boats do you want to jump out of? In what areas of your life do you need God’s restorative forgiveness?
- Write a prayer to God asking for forgiveness in those hard spaces and asking Him to use you again for His glory and good today.
- Pray in the Holy Spirit this week when you wake up each day, asking Him to show you how to follow Him this week, to give you opportunities to do His work, and give you the strength to obey and do it well.