Tuesday, February 23, 2016

When you feel like a Failure

Read John 21.

The Apostle Paul warned, "Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."  (1 Corinthians 10:12)  It is shear hubris on our part any time we think we are not vulnerable to sin.  Peter, like all of us, exemplifies this truth.

When Jesus foretold of His departure at the end of John 13, Peter's response was, "I will lay down my life for you.  Jesus answered, '....the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.'"  Surely, those words stung Peter's character.  Yet, that same night while he warmed himself by a fire, Peter cursed and denied that he even knew Jesus.  He had succumbed to temptation of lying out of fear and self-protection.  The moral failure was sin and he knew it.

Jesus showed Himself alive after the resurrection over the next 50 days, from Passover to Pentecost.  Peter had seen the Lord twice before during that time.  Now, he and some of the other disciples went fishing.  What took place on the shore in this chapter restored Peter in both his relationship with Jesus and with his mission in life.

Several insights are here concerning restoration after a spiritual failure.
1. Jesus took the initiative.
God always does.  A key ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict of sin (John 16:8).  By making His presence known, Jesus provided an open opportunity for Peter to respond and come to Him.  A soft heart is sensitive to the Spirit's prompting.  It is that quiet voice in the conscience.  God can yell loudly at a heart hardened by sin and they do not hear him.

2. Peter came running.
Running to God and wanting His presence is the first step toward repentance.  This in itself did not resolve the problem, but it was a good start.  Running from God is impossible and only makes matters worse.

3. The root issue is a committed love.
Jesus never mentioned the three denials.  However, by asking three times, the comparison must have been unmistakable to Peter.  Jesus went for Peter's heart.  Love may produce emotions and passions, but true love is a commitment.  It shows itself in actions of fidelity.  Peter had been unfaithful and violated his love for the Lord.

4. Peter was still grieving.
He was not just sorry about what had happened.  These are not mere remorseful feelings because he was caught.  This is a repentance, an admission of wrong, and a recommitment of his relationship with Christ.  "For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret..." (2 Corinthians 7:10)

5. Jesus put him back on mission.
There was work to do, people to reach, the Good News to proclaim.  Here, the Good Shepherd recommissioned Peter to fulfill his calling and his duty.  Indeed, like most of the other disciples, Peter would lay down his life for Christ.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

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