We’ve all faced our share of embarrassments. Once when I was walking to a podium to speak, I tripped on my own feet and twisted my ankle. As I spoke, I stood still, feeling my ankle swelling bigger and bigger until I could barely walk back to my seat. I once tripped on my own feet and fell down a flight of steps in front of the teen Sunday School class I had just met. While trying to look cool in front of a cute guy, I tripped and fell into the bumper boat water. I have a list of embarrassing situations because I am awkward and usually clumsy, but I was able to recover from all of these (except that cute worker at the bumperboat rides…ha!)
We have those embarrassing moments. but we also have those moments that we wish we could go back and change. moments when we said something that can never be taken back. words that, once said, change our relationships no matter how many times we apologize. we yearn for restoration, but never find it completely.
That’s where we pick up with Peter. He had denied knowing Jesus three times while in the same place as Jesus. The following verses tell us about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. We can only assume that the last thing Peter said that Jesus heard was, “I don’t know him!” Then Peter watched Jesus die.
We know that Jesus was going to raise from the dead in 3 days, but Peter didn’t. Can you imagine what he struggled with for those 3 days?? But on that third day, Peter was one of the men who RAN to that empty tomb to see for themselves that Jesus was risen, as the women had told them. John looked from outside the tomb, but Peter…Peter ran inside to see for himself. The angel at the tomb had told Mary to “tell the disciples and PETER” that Jesus was headed to Galilee (Mark 16:7).
I can’t imagine the shout of joy that came from Peter when he realized that those weren’t his last words to Jesus and that Jesus was still thinking of him. After what he had done, Jesus loved him. Peter knew that.
The Bible says that Jesus appeared to His disciples, Peter included. After Jesus went up into Heaven, Peter and the other disciples had “great joy” (Luke 24:52). This “joy” is from the Greek word, “Chairo” meaning a cheerfulness or a calm delight. I would imagine that Peter was cheerful! His last words to Jesus weren’t his last words at all. His HUGE mess wasn’t beyond repair.
After Peter’s mess and remorse, God used him to do big things. Peter stood before the crowds at Pentecost and preached salvation to them. 3,000 people were saved that day. God gave Peter the gift of participating in that. This was only 50 days after he denied Jesus. Not even 2 months after his big mess….God restored Peter and used him to speak life to thousands of people. Peter got to be part of something huge. Not because he was perfect, but because he was willing…because he believed Jesus was who He said He was…because he repented of his sins and his messes…because he loved God.
Peter had made a huge mess in a matter of hours. But God….(I love that phrase, “But God”) God knew Peter’s heart. God knew Peter would mess up. But God chose Peter anyway. Peter could have crawled under the covers and listened to the lie that God couldn’t use him anymore, but he would have missed out on God’s plans for him. God had amazing things planned with Peter – plans that effect us even today. Instead of curling up and quitting after a huge mistake, Peter chose to take a step of faith toward believing that empty tomb…he found restoration and the loving Christ waiting to forgive and help him move on.
My Father, thank you that we are never beyond restoration. Thank you that our messes don’t scare you away. Thank you for unfailing love. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank you for grace and for mercy. We are so unable to fix things on our own. We are so unable to love and serve without You holding our hand each step of the way. Thank you for holding us up and for walking each step of everyday with us. Praise You for your everlasting love. Praise You for the plans You have for us, because they are FAR better than we could ever dream! Amen.