In the previous post, I highlighted 7 essential Scriptures related to failure and falling INTO God’s gracious, loving, redemptive plan for us. In today’s post, I’d like to continue discussing the concept of falling forward by focusing in on one of the Bible’s most amazing stories: Jesus’ redemption of the fallen Peter in John 21:1-17.
In the days following Jesus’ death, Peter has returned to his old life as a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. This is the same Peter who had abandoned the fish business 3 years prior to follow Jesus. Even among Jesus’ 12 Disciples, Peter was one of Jesus’ 3 closest friends. And this is the very same Peter of whom Jesus had declared “On this Rock, I will build my Church” less than a week before! (Matthew 16:18)
Here is this Peter, Jesus’ chosen successor for the leadership of His followers – throwing nets off the side of a fishing skiff, as if he had never followed Jesus in the first place. Peter is in the pit of despair. He is dejected. Peter feels completely worthless and like an utter failure as a follower of Christ. Just a couple of days before, Peter had repeatedly and emphatically denied – in public! – that he ever knew, or had ever even had anything to do with, this Jesus.
Here in John 21, on the beaches of Galilee, the Risen Lord prepares a delicious BBQ breakfast over a warm fire. The hospitality, preparation, and service of this meal communicates warmth, welcome, and intimacy from the Host to His guest. From his small fishing boat, Peter immediately recognizes that it is Jesus, and he leaps out of the boat to swim back to the shore! Reunited on the beach for the first time since Peter’s denial of Jesus in the courtyard on late Thursday night, Jesus lovingly affirms and restores Peter.
Don’t go back to Egypt! Note what Peter did after his huge failure: he immediately returned to his old way of life – his old way of doing things from before his life with Jesus. In restoring Peter, Jesus teaches us not to turn back to our old life for comfort and value after we fail. Instead, He says:
- Turn to Me for comfort & restoration.
- Love Me with your actions towards others.
- Continue to do what I’ve called you to do.
- Don’t turn your back on the calling I have given you, just because of a mistake or failure.
What was Satan’s goal when he tempted Peter to deny Christ? Was it to just make Peter feel really bad? Or was it to kick Jesus while He was down? Or was it is to try and make Peter give up on all this fishing-for-men stuff, and return to a life of fishing for fish? Wasn’t Satan’s aim really to try to derail Peter from his God-given calling? And in so doing, kill the growth of the Church in it’s infancy?
When runners compete in a race, if they fall, they don’t have to go back to the starting line; they get back up, and continue on from the point where they fell.
What would’ve happened to Christianity if Peter really had quit fishing for men – if he had just allowed his fall to totally defeat him, and return him permanently to his old life at sea?
Judgment & critique & condemnation & blame – these are all toys you play with in the accuser’s playground. But in the Father’s playground, you play with thankfulness, gratitude, and freedom. Self-judgment keeps you in the accuser’s playground.
You’re fighting yourself! – but your fight is not with you – with flesh and blood – but with powers and dark forces and evil principalities (Ephesians 6:12).
It is poisonous to try to deal with your sin by going into a place of self-condemnation. That is not your identity. It’s a lie. You have the mind of Christ! The love of God for you has not changed. Call out your sin for what it is. Then confess it to God in repentance, and move forward in His indelible love for you.
Come to the place where you can very quickly take your eyes off of yourself and lift them up to your Daddy and who you are in Him. Through self-condemnation, you are becoming the accuser. Quickly become the thankful one – take yourself as quickly as you can to a place of gratitude with Papa.
When my son Eli makes a mistake, when he sins, what do I want him to do? As his father, what do I desire from my son after he sins?
- be honest – talk to me about it,
- take responsibility to make it right, and
- move on, confident in my unchanged love for him, approval of him, and delight in him.