Summary: When we sin, is our service to Christ finished? He is not only able to restore broken saints, but to use them mightily in His service.
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.’ (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’
“Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’ So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’”
Few of us realise how sinful we really are. If we actually knew how wicked we are, we would not be shocked when we fail morally, ethically, or even when we deny our faith. However, few of us really know the depth of our own depravity. Therefore, we are shocked, especially when we fall into serious sin. For all our good intentions as followers of Christ, it is disconcerting to discover how very easy it is for us to deny our Master and Saviour.
When we sin—and we do sin, often egregiously—we tend to imagine that we have forfeited any opportunity to have a successful and joyous Christian life. The devil, to say nothing of our own conscience, condemns us, accusing us of our failure and suggesting that we are no longer of any value to the cause of Christ. I want to encourage you who are Christians that when you sin, you have not forfeited your chance for a full Christian life. You must not imagine that you can continue sinning, but you should never think that your sin is so great that you are forever sidelined from serving the Master. The biblically appointed way to respond to sin is repentance and restoration. We learn this from the account of Peter’s failure in the hour of the Master’s greatest need, and through his repentance and restoration by the Risen Saviour.
A BIG MAN’S BOAST AND FALL — Go back in your minds to one of the great confessions made concerning Jesus. It was great because it required courage and because it was based primarily upon what Jesus said about Himself. You will no doubt remember the setting when Jesus asked, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The disciples responded, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus, perhaps wishing to draw the disciples out, pointedly asked, “But who do you say that I am?” It was at this point that Peter burst forth with his great confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” [MATTHEW 16:13-16].
This confession was the apex of Peter’s walk with the Master before the crucifixion. Matters moved rapidly toward a finale after Jesus travelled to Jerusalem. It was during the Last Supper that Jesus issued a new commandment, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” [JOHN 13:34, 35]. The command must have stimulated Peter to think of how much he loved Jesus, because when Jesus spoke of going away, Peter understood that He was speaking of His death. Wouldn’t you think that such a lofty command coupled with such a serious statement of sacrifice such as this would humble the disciples? Rather than humbling him, Jesus’ words seemed to goad Peter into making a fantastic assertion. We read that Peter boasted, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you” [JOHN 13:37].