Peter’s failure is complete and utter. Having vociferously denied that he would deny Jesus, he does so, three times, including oaths and swearing to be sure. He may have imagined his boldness in the moment, standing with Christ against the Sanhedrin. Then it turns out that when a servant girl asks him if he was with Jesus, he replies “I do not know the man” – that’s a long drop from “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” I imagine those words of denial haunted him for the next few days – he was supposed to be the Rock and he had crumbled before a girl.
Shame over past failures and sins can haunt and inhibit us in many ways. And Satan seeks to steal and destroy our faith by shoving our failures in our face. But Jesus intends to redeem us completely. When Jesus chose you to be a disciple, He knew you would fail, He knew you would get it wrong again and again. So Jesus exhorts us in the same way he exhorted Peter in Matthew 26:41 “watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
When you do fail remember what Jesus said to Peter before his failure, “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32). Peter was about to fail miserably, but Jesus had prayed for him and Jesus’ prayers are greater than our failures. Hebrews 7:25 tells us “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” And what a restoration Jesus gives – on the beach in a few days time, Jesus says “Follow me”. The failure is left behind and as Jon Bloom put it “There was kingdom work to do, and eternal life to enjoy.”
Be like Peter, don’t let your failures define you, allow the cross to deal with them, as it has, and get on with serving him.
Don’t be like Judas who in the second part of the reading is overcome with remorse rather than repentance and ends up dead, guts spilling over the field of blood. Worldly sorrow never does any good, but godly sorrow leads to a change of thinking and much grace to get up and get going again.
Lord thank you for your grace that covers my failures. I lay them all at the foot of the cross. Release me from their discouragement and fill me with courage to serve you. Amen