We’ve all made mistakes in life. Big or small, there’s a lot we wished we could have done differently. Unfortunately, it’s a natural tendency to look back and dwell on the past.
Few people in the Bible sinned like Peter. As Jesus was being accused and mistreated before the crucification, Peter was in the process of denying Him. Not once, not twice but three times.
Although not a Biblical expert, I believe what Peter did was one of the lowest moments recorded in the Bible. Here was a man who witnessed the power of Jesus thousands of times. Jesus saved Peter from calamity and revealed His greatness over and over. Also, based on what we see in the gospels, it’s evident Peter had a closer relationship to Christ compared to other disciples. Yet despite this, Peter didn’t have the integrity, faith and courage to acknowledge Jesus when asked.
After this shocking denial, the Bible says Peter broke down and wept (Mark 14:72), presumably understanding the gravity of his sin. One can only imagine what Peter was thinking at that moment. He likely thought he was the biggest failure on earth. He probably thought he could never do anything for the kingdom of Heaven and would be destined to a lifetime of loneliness.
However, God thought differently.
One theme found throughout the Bible is forgiveness. In Psalm 103:12 (ESV), its says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” No matter how badly we mess up, God is always willing to forgive us. It’s in His nature and that nature can never be changed.
Another awesome thing about God is restoration. Not only is God able to forgive but He is also able to restore. Out of hundreds of people found in the Bible, very few have been upright, meaning the vast majority had severe character flaws that needed refinement.
Despite Peter’s failures, God had a plan for major restoration. After the resurrection Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep “ (John 21:15-17).
For each of Peter’s denials, we see how Jesus allowed Peter to redeem himself. Even better, Peter went on to do wondrous things in the name of Christ. In the end God turned an evil failure into a righteous triumph.
So, when God gives us forgiveness and restoration it’s our job to remember Philippians 3:13 when it says, “Brothers, I do not consider myself that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.