What is the worst thing you have ever done? Have you experienced God’s forgiveness? Or, in contrast, do you fear that God will not forgive you? I invite you to consider the example of Peter. You may remember that though he was one of the twelve disciples, he denied Jesus three times, even invoking a curse on himself and swearing that he did not know Jesus. And yet Jesus forgave him. In John 21:15-19, we read the remarkable account of how God’s great mercy was shown to Peter.
First, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” In doing so, he graciously gave Peter the opportunity to publicly reaffirm his love for Christ, demonstrating his grief and repentance over his sin. The story reveals that though Peter sinned greatly, he was restored to fellowship with Jesus.
Jesus also gave Peter a very important task, “Tend my sheep.” Yes, Jesus entrusted the care of his followers to Peter despite his earlier failure, so great and complete is the forgiveness he bestows.
Finally, Jesus told Peter that he would die a martyr’s death. Is this some kind of punishment for his sin? No, of course not. He had been reconciled to God by grace. On the contrary, this call to “follow Christ” in the way of suffering meant that Peter was granted the honor of laying down his life for the greatest conceivable purpose, namely to glorify God.
What does this story have to do with us? I’m glad you asked. Though the details of Peter’s restoration are unique, we can recognize a pattern of how God deals with his people. God’s grace is greater than all of our sin. Like Peter, all Christians have been restored to fellowship with God, entrusted with some sort of ministry and called to glorify God by a life of sacrifice.
Are you haunted by the memory of past sins? Receive the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ and serve the Lord with gladness.
Editor’s note: The Chaplain’s Corner covers everything faith related. Facts not attributed are purely the opinion of the writer.