Imagine words or deeds you can’t take back, and those becoming the defining moments for your legacy. A failure. A disgrace. A mistake.
This was Peter. He’s the one who denied Jesus. The one always remembered for his failure. The one who, for his own benefit, denied he ever knew Jesus, and never got an opportunity to fix his mistake before Jesus went to the cross and died.
Luke 22: 32-34 Jesus said “Simon (who’s name is also Peter), Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But he replied, “Lord I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
And of course, what happens next are the 3 encounters where Peter was questioned if he was with Jesus, and he denied ever knowing him. Denial. Denial. Denial. Then, he hears the rooster crow. Epic failure. Shameful. Peter had just done the very thing he swore he would never do.
Have you ever done the thing you said you would never do? Have you ever been so disgusted with your own self and hate the choices you made? What do you do after that?
Peter then stood at a distance and watched Jesus, his dear friend who he had spent every day with for the past 3.5 years, the one he had witnessed do impossible miracles, the one he had walked on water with, now hang on the cross and die. Imagine how Peter must have felt standing there. He knew the last thing Jesus had seen of him was his denial. He knew how wrong he was and how it could never be undone.
But have you ever noticed what Jesus said to Peter before he foretold of his failure? Jesus said he has specifically prayed for him. Prayed that his faith would not fail. And because Jesus had prayed for him, he would turn back, and when he did, he was to strengthen his brothers.
You see, Jesus not only knew in advance that Peter would fail and deny him, but he had already planned for Peter’s return. He had already aligned a great purpose and mission for him, even after his epic failure.
My sister, you must know that Jesus has always planned for your return too! He’s not shaken by your failure. He’s not surprised by your wandering years. He’s not overwhelmed by your doubting, your denying, or your disbelief. He’s always been planning for your return to his purposes.
Satan was asking to sift Jesus’ followers like wheat. Sifting wheat breaks it down and makes it fall apart so it can be separated. So, for Satan to sift someone, it means he wanted to totally break them down, and shake them until they fall apart. This was Satan’s plan for the disciples after Jesus’ crucifixion. They were to lose all hope, stop all progress, and dwell in total defeat. But Jesus had already prayed against Satan’s plans and even specifically prayed that Peter would return after his failure and rise up as a leader.
You can be sure Satan has been asking to sift you like wheat. To take every failure and rub it in your face until you fall apart. To overwhelm you with defeat until you break down. But Jesus says, “No, I’ve already prepared for when my girl comes back to me!”
No matter how long you’ve been away from God’s good plans for your life, or how far off track you’ve wandered, Jesus still wants you back for his purposes to be fulfilled concerning you. Those purposes are to be covered by his mercy and grace, living as a shining example of a life redeemed by his sacrifice.
After Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter must have been replaying his final words. He must have heard that rooster crow over and over again in his head. And every single morning, in his village, a rooster would crow. And every single morning he would beat himself up again, asking how could he have denied his Jesus?
Jesus was taken down from the cross and buried in a tomb. There was nothing left to do, so the disciples all returned to their lives and began working again. The fishermen began fishing again. And that’s where we find Peter on the day Jesus comes walking up on the shore after his death.
John 21: 3-8 “ Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” the other disciples said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat …”
There’s only one who jumps out of the boat and swims to shore to get to Jesus first. That was Peter! Yes, the one who denied him was the one who swam back to him. Remember what Jesus had prayed? He had prayed that after his failure, then he would turn back and strengthen the others.
How did Jesus receive him when he turned back? With open arms and a big breakfast! And Sis, that is his plan with you too! No matter what you have done. No matter where you have gone. No matter how long it has taken you. All he wants is for you to turn back to him and receive his divine provisions as he has aligned.
The enemy’s plans to sift you like wheat, tear you down and make you fall apart, will NOT be successful. Your faith will bring you back to Jesus who has always been waiting for you and planning to use you for great things!
Peter became the rock which Jesus built his Church on. Yes, the one who failed Jesus. The one who did the exact thing he said he would never do, and he did it 3 times! This is who Jesus used. It’s who he always planned to use, with full awareness of his failures.
And Jesus wants to use you. Even with your mistakes and failures. Even with all the things you wish you could go back and undo. With the time you wish you could get back. The paths you wish you wouldn’t have wandered down. The mistakes you wish you would have never made. Jesus knows it all and still welcomes your return with wide open arms and nothing but good plans for you!
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