Commentary by Walter Albritton



January 26



Penitent Peter: Forgiven, Restored, and Ready to Serve his Lord

Read Luke 22:31-34, 54-62; John 21

Key Verse: John 21:15


People fail. I have failed. You have failed. No one except Jesus has ever lived a perfect life.

Failure is a bitter, crippling experience. Failure tastes worse than castor oil. Nobody likes it.

Yet to live a useful life, we must find ways to cope with failure. Otherwise, it can destroy us, holding us in a stranglehold of guilt.

This is where the gospel comes in. The gospel is grace. The gospel is the good news that God is willing to forgive us and change us. He offers us a second chance, and if we are willing, he restores us, allowing us to become fruitful servants of Christ.

Our churches are filled with people who have failed, and believe that God can never use them because of their wicked past. That is why pastors and Sunday school teachers need to tell the story of Peter repeatedly.

Peter made promises and broke them. He made brash statements about his willingness to die for Jesus, but hid in cowardice behind his own lies while Jesus was being beaten and finally crucified.

Peter heard the awful sound of the cock crowing, and felt the terrible weight of his denial crashing down upon his soul. He felt so ashamed that he wanted to die. Disgrace was never so burdensome to a man.

We can hear Peter sobbing, his body shaking, his heart breaking with anguish that makes breathing difficult. Yet he does not opt for suicide, as Judas has done. He opts for grace. He repents, clinging to hope that somehow Jesus will forgive him.

Jesus does forgive Peter! Few chapters in the Bible are as beautiful as chapter 21 of John. Here is a story we must tell and celebrate in the church again and again.

At a breakfast by the sea, Jesus does not ask Peter about his denial. He has only one question for the big fisherman: “do you love me?”

He did not ask Peter about his gifts or his credentials. He shows no concern at all about his past. His failures and sins are not on Jesus’ agenda.

Assured that Peter did love him, Jesus gives him a second chance. He gives him his work to do: “feed my lambs.”

The rest is history. Forgiven and restored, Peter became a useful servant of the Lord. The good news is that the same thing can happen to us! By the grace of God, we can overcome our failures. We too can be restored, rescued from remorse and regret.  

Bill and Gloria Gaither express this gospel truth simply and beautifully in this familiar song:  

“Something beautiful, something good;

all my confusion he understood;

all I had to offer him was brokenness and strife,

but he made something beautiful of my life.”

The glory of the gospel is that Jesus keeps doing that again and again, whenever we who have failed give him a chance!   +  +  +