Can you imagine having a close friend who constantly hurt you and let you down? Someone who took your relationship and your love for granted? I don’t know about you, but if I had someone like that in my life, I probably wouldn’t be friends with them for long. This thought came into my mind the other day, and I was quickly reminded of my relationship with Christ and His undying love for me. Time and time again, I have let Him down with my poor decisions or my sinful nature, but I am reminded of the death that He died on the cross; the love that held Him up as He hung so innocently on that tree.
As a Christian, I realize that I have fallen and that I have made mistakes in my life, but there is great joy in the power and restoration of Jesus Christ. There are examples all throughout Scripture of individuals who have fallen, but have turned to God for forgiveness. The best picture we can see of true forgiveness is when Jesus forgave Peter for denying Him three times. Jesus used His own plan of recovery to not only forgive Peter, but to use Him for His glory. Jesus did not allow Peter’s sin to hold him back, and He wants the same for you and me!
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what your talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Behold the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Luke 22: 60-61
Every time I read this passage, I can only imagine the look that must have been on Jesus’ face: sheer disappointment and hurt. Peter, who Jesus chose to be His disciple, betrayed Him in His darkest time on this Earth. The beauty of all this, is that, even though Jesus was hurt by Peter’s actions, minutes later He forgave Him when He died a cruel death on the cross. We see a story of restoration in John 21: 15-23, when Jesus reappeared to the disciples after His resurrection. Three times in this scene we see Jesus ask Peter if he loves him. Here we see a beautiful picture of Jesus allowing Peter to affirm his love for Him three times (the number of times Peter initially denies Christ). In each response, Jesus commands Peter to feed and take care of His sheep. Jesus not only forgave Peter, but He gave him responsibilities to carry out as a believer and follower of Christ. I once heard in a message that Jesus will never take you out of commission. If we have a repentant heart and desire to live for Christ, then we need to understand that this comes with a sense of responsibility!
Just like Jesus forgave Peter and commanded Him to care for His sheep, He does the same for us. He commands us to go into the entire world preaching His good news to all!
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28: 19-20
Denying Christ is probably the worst sin a Christian can commit, and yet instead of scolding Peter, Jesus leads him to reaffirm his love for Christ , and then commands him to care for His people on this Earth. Peter repented for his sins, and trusted in the forgiving power of Jesus Christ. Likewise, if we have sinned, we must trust that Jesus will restore us through repentance. He yearns to have a relationship with us, and does not want Satan to have any control in bringing us down. Submit to Christ and allow His healing power to bring restoration into your lives. Turn your life to Him and allow Him to use you for His Kingdom. My relationship with Christ is the ultimate picture of a true Friend. His unwavering love for us is simply amazing, and should drive us to live for Him!