The Reclaiming of a Loser (Part 3)

Peter. The man who was so boastful. He was so sure he would never let the Lord down. Now, here in John chapter 21 he is humbled to the dust. Jesus asks him “do you love me?” beside the fire. Was the fire a reminder of the fire where Peter warmed himself during Jesus’ trial? I’m sure the embers of the fire and Jesus’ tough but loving words reminded him of his failure.

Peter replies and declares his love for Jesus, but there is no puffing out his chest in false pride when he does this. He knows his love is not perfect. Far, far from it. But it is real. And that is what God desires from his frail, failing disciple. Admit you’ve failed. You still love the Lord…certainly in an imperfect way…but you do love him as Peter did.

Notice what Jesus does not do in John 21:15-25–He does not try to make Peter feel guilty. He does not slap him around. Peter is already remorseful and repentant. Jesus does not nag him with “promise me you’ll do better…” Jesus simply leads him to see the depths of his sin, and Peter sees it. And he hates that sin. It is good to hate…if we hate sin. It is good to love…if we love God and love people.

Peter never denied Jesus again. Did he ever fail in other ways? Yes. You can read about it in the first chapter of Galatians. But after this confrontation with Jesus, when the Lord restores him to service, Peter goes back into Jerusalem and fearlessly preaches the truth about the living Christ he once denied.

What do I learn from this? Failure is not permanent. It’s a point in my life…but it is not what will be forever. And Peter is me. His story is my story. Growing as a Christian is long and slow and painful. Just as it was for this apostle, so it is for me. Lastly, keep your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1,2). Yes, I fail like Peter does, but thank God I have a wonderful, forgiving, empowering Savior in the Lord Jesus Christ who takes me (warts and all!) and uses me for His holy cause.

Posted by Jeff Sanders