During this time of Advent, it is very important to focus on the hope of forgiveness. After all, this is what Jesus offers through his death and resurrection. It is why he came to earth, to be the final sacrifice for our sins. Many have struggled with believing that God would forgive them. Others suffer in that they cannot forgive themselves. These thoughts/beliefs hinder them from having hope. Maybe you are one of these people. Today, we will look at Peter and see that we can all have hope in forgiveness.
You may recall that Peter is the one who walked on waterfor a few moments, he was one of the three beloved disciples of Jesus, he was involved in several miracles, and is generally seen as the leader of the apostles. Peter was always one to push the boundaries, try harder, and rush in. These qualities in his personality served him well and also served to put him in the worst of positions.
You see, Peter was one of Jesus’ beloved three disciples, one of the most trusted. However, Judas would not be the only one to betray Jesus the night Jesus was arrested. Before his arrest, but after Judas had left, Jesus told Peter that he would deny Jesus three times.
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
John 13:36-38 NIV
Peter could not believe it, and when Jesus was about to be arrested, he tried to fight his way out of it.
When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.
Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
John 18:1-14 NIV
Jesus had told Peter that he was going to deny him three times. Then, when Peter tried to protect Jesus, Jesus called him out and rebuked his efforts. In Luke we see Jesus healing the servant and putting his ear back in on. So here is Peter, a good friend of Jesus and devoted disciple, being told that he would betray his Lord and Master and then having his Lord and Master rebuke him. He must’ve been feeling scared, confused, and low. But it isn’t even over yet. You see, Peter goes on to deny Jesus, just like Jesus said.
Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
“You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.
He replied, “I am not.”
It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.
John 18:15-18 NIV
Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”
He denied it, saying, “I am not.”
One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
Imagine how Peter felt at this moment. He had been rebuked by Jesus. He had denied knowing Jesus, just as Jesus had foretold. Jesus had been crucified and was now dead. Can you imagine the hopelessness he must’ve felt?
Now think about when Jesus comes back from the dead. That guilt and shame is infinitely compounded. Now he will have to face Jesus, knowing the Jesus knew everything and the he had not been loyal as he proudly declared he would. He was not even at the foot of the cross with John and Mary. No, Peter had been elsewhere. Peter would be with Jesus three more times (post-resurrection) before Jesus would deal with the issue.
Jesus didn’t demand anything. He didn’t coerce Peter. He didn’t even chastise Peter. In fact, he didn’t even talk about the details with Peter. Instead, he asked Peter a few questions.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
John 21:15-19 NIV
For every time that Peter denied Jesus, he had to affirm his love for Jesus. Once that was done, Jesus beckoned Peter to follow him. You see, Jesus forgave Peter. He forgave Peter before Peter had even done the deed. But Peter needed to know that. This was Jesus’ way of showing Peter that he was forgiven.
Have you ever felt like Peter? That there was no hope for Jesus forgiving you? That you have been so bad that you don’t deserve forgiveness?
Toss those thoughts aside! They are from Satan. Jesus offers forgiveness and restoration to everyone. IT just requires you to love Jesus above all else. That’s all it took for Peter to be forgiven. That’s all it takes for you. Love Jesus above all else and follow him. Once Peter was restored, he went on to be the foundation of the church. Jesus previously had told him that Jesus would build his church on Peter, and that is exactly what happened! Some of his writings are in the Bible and we read about his many works throughout the New Testament. He didn’t get bogged down in doubt and guilt. He had been forgiven and restored. He had the assurance of forgiveness.
Do you have this assurance? Have you decided to love and follow Jesus above all else? If so, then you have the hope of forgiveness! Jesus knows your sins: past, present, and future. If you love and follow him, those sins will be covered when you face God. That is an amazing hope to have! And it is yours!
So when you start feeling that you are too bad, or your sin is too great, or guilt over takes you, remember what Jesus did for Peter. He wants to do that for you. Have hope in the forgiveness that Jesus offers you.
Thank you for forgiving me. Help me to take hold of your forgiveness. When Satan tries to throw guilt on to me, or when I start to think you won’t forgive me, remind me of your promise. Help me to stay focused on my love for you and on following you.
As I go throughout my daily things, help me to extend the forgiveness to others that you have given me.
In your name I pray,
- Are there things in your past that you still carry guilt for? Ask the Holy Spirit to rid you of that guilt.
- Is there sin that you have not asked forgiveness for? Ask now.
- Do you feel like you have sin that can’t be forgiven? Pray and ask forgiveness now, then stand in the hope that you have been forgiven. Ask the Holy Spirit to solidify the feeling of forgiveness and to help guard you from Satan’s attacks.