Peter’s three denials could have marked
the end of his ministry. But the power of Christ’s forgiveness led to three
Easter story is full of gloom. Agonizing prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Hostile mobs demanding execution. Betrayal and beatings. A crown of thorns and
a bloody cross.
one of the saddest parts of the story, to me, is what happened to Peter the
night Jesus was arrested. Peter was tired, stressed to the breaking point and
fearful of the crowd. When the high priest’s servant girl accused him of being
a disciple of Jesus, he denied it. When she repeated her accusation to some
bystanders, he denied it again. When others questioned him, the Bible says
Peter “began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about!’”
(Mark 14:71, NASB)
“This Easter, please remember that after Peter wept in
the darkness of his shame, the sun came up and Jesus lovingly restored his
faith. He will do the same for you.”
the rooster crowed, and Peter remembered Jesus’ words: “Before a rooster crows
twice, you will deny me three times” (v. 72).
could have been the end for Peter. He wept bitterly and disappeared. He never
says anything else in Matthew and Mark’s gospels. Luke records the fact that
Peter went to Jesus’ tomb and found it empty. John’s is the only gospel that
explains how Peter found full restoration for his failure.
lonely and dejected, Peter went back to what he knew—his fishing job. He had
fished all night and caught nothing. But then Jesus appeared on the shore and
invited His friends to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. They
hauled in a full net of fish! This was a divine sign that their Master still
had plans to use them.
must have been curious when He saw the full breakfast Jesus had prepared for
the disciples on the beach. How could this be? Jesus wasn’t frowning or
scowling. Nor was he waiting to deliver a stern lecture. He didn’t scold Peter
or even remind him of his sin. This amazing Savior simply invited Peter to sit
with him and eat.
Jesus talked his beloved Peter through the process of healing. He said to Peter
three times: “Do you love me?” Surely Peter realized that Jesus was repeating himself
three times in order to intentionally apply His forgiveness to Peter’s three
denials. Jesus’ three commands to Peter (“Tend My lambs,” “Shepherd My sheep”
and “Tend My sheep”) provided all the reassurance he needed.
had not disqualified him. He was not a failure. He was back in the game.
is even more amazing is how the shaky, impetuous, insecure Peter was
transformed after he was baptized in the Holy Spirit a few weeks later. This
weak man who crumbled under pressure when His Master was arrested then preached
not one, not two, but three important sermons in the opening chapters of the
book of Acts.
Peter preached on the day of Pentecost and boldly declared to a crowd that
Jesus is the Messiah—and 3,000 people were converted. Second, after God healed
the lame man in Solomon’s portico, Peter preached a sermon of repentance and
5,000 people were saved. Third, after Peter and John were arrested and brought
before the high priest, Peter bravely defended his faith in Christ and told the
elders: “There is salvation in no one else” (Acts 4:12).
denials. Three affirmations of Christ’s love. Three courageous sermons
defending Jesus in the face of opposition. I hope you can do the math.
is a bit of Peter in all of us. We are weak in the face of temptation. We feel
like failures. Some people even keep a spiritual scorecard reminding them that
they struck out.
This Easter, please remember that after Peter wept in
the darkness of his shame, the sun came up and Jesus appeared on the shore with
a meal prepared. Just as He invited Peter to breakfast, and then lovingly
restored his faith, He can do the same for you.
J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma. He is preaching in San Juan,
Puerto Rico, this week. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His newest book is 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House).