“Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” – Psalm 51:11-12 (NIV)
Restoration brings a great feeling of warmth, love and acceptance. If anybody understands what it means to be restored to fellowship with God, it is Peter the apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and one of the members of His inner circle.
Today, we invite you to join us to visit Peter and experience his faith of failure and joy of restoration. Peter’s failure had come a long way from the life of a fisherman after he was called to follow the Lord Jesus as stated in Matt. 4:18-20 – “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him. Although he had a penchant for blurring out his thoughts at inopportune times Jesus saw his potential. Jesus hand honed him with teaching, with rebuke, with insight and with instruction and even given a new name: Rock, an image of solidity – “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” – Matt. 16:18. And yet, at the last moments of Jesus’ ministry, Peter wavered in loyalty and faith and failed Jesus miserable by denying Him – “Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in. “You are not one of His disciples, are you?” the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.” It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them warming himself.” – John 18:15-18 (NIV)
Steward of Failure
In spite of Peter’s faults however, Jesus restored and entrusted him with the care and leading of His flock. Three times Peter had denied Jesus (and with oaths and curses), and three times Jesus tells him: feed my lambs. Jesus uses Peter’s own failure to nail down his commitment to the call He has been given.
We too have denied Jesus on many occasions and as Jesus did for Peter, so is He willing to restore us to Himself and also to bridge the gap between us and God (reconciliation).
Three Kinds of Failure
Pastor Robert Simms, author of Living Life for the Highest Purpose, a Study in Christian Stewardship writes on failure as an opportunity for stewardship. He sees the concept of failure as a resource to be managed wisely is simply. To him, every failure is simply an experience in response to which a person may gain wisdom, or become defeated. Each failure is an opportunity to accumulate the information that will either redirect life or steal its momentum. Every life contains failure; and some contain multiple failures. According to him, there are three kinds of failure:
- There is a failure that is not one’s own, but the failure of another, such as when one witnesses about Christ but there is no response on the part of the person witnessed to.
- The second kind of failure is the experience of disappointment, such as when a long-desired goal is missed. The key to good stewardship of this kind of failure is to regard it as just another step toward the success of finding the right path or reaching the ultimate goal. Instead of looking at failure as step backward, the Christian steward should consider it a step forward that eliminates some options from future plans and to illuminates hazards that should be avoided in our future strategy.
- The third kind of failure is moral and/or spiritual and we may be determined to ask ourselves some questions; why did this thing happen? What can I learn from it? What must I do differently now, and the next time this kind of opportunity arises? What different direction do I need to take from this point forward to that I may not fail in this way again?
As far as is concerned, Pastor Simms says a person’s true failures constitute either a proving ground for renewal or a landfill for a wasted life. The difference is made by the determination not to give in to the plot of the adversary, Satan, to weave a pattern of defeat and despair into life until everything appears so bleak that a person gives up trying to live for Christ.
Do You Truly Love Me
It is hard to imagine a more important question that Peter could have ever faced than whether he truly possessed a devoted love for the Lord. Though Jesus’ repeated question may have puzzled Peter or even hurt his feelings, the Lord Jesus Christ was really showing compassion for Peter even though he denied Him – “You are not one of His disciples, are you?” the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.” – John 18:17 “As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, “You are not one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.” One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with Him in the olive grove?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.” – John 18:25-27 (NIV). Jesus knew that even though Peter was emotionally enthusiastic, his commitment would not last if he was not confident of his love for Christ.
Two Greek words for “love” are used here. The first (used in Jesus’ first two questions) is agapao, which speaks of an intelligent, thoughtful and purposeful love involving the entire personality, but primarily a decision of the mind and will. The other word is phileo, which speaks of a warm, natural and more spontaneous sense of feeling and affection – a more emotional love. Through these two words, Jesus points out that Peter’s love must be more than a commitment of his mind, but also of the heart. It must be a love motivated by both purpose and personal attachment.
All of Jesus’ followers, including us face this same question. The main issue is not, “Are you willing to do anything for God?” or “Do you love others?” The primary question that Jesus wants all of us to answer is this: “Do you truly love me?” A deep and heartfelt love for God is the only effective motivation for serving Him as we read in John 14:15; John 16:27; Matt.10:37.
As Christians, our primary calling is to be with Him, to know Him and to love Him. Out of that love relationship comes the motivation and power to fulfill our God-given purposes in life no matter what we have to endure along the way.
Take Care of my Sheep
Jesus’ description of His followers as lambs and sheep suggest that
- We need pastoral care from loving, capable and faithful leaders;
- We need to feed constantly on God’s Word;
- Since sheep are a wandering nature, we need repeated guidance, protection and correction from God and others He may use in our lives; and
- We must continue to be loyal followers, disciplined learners of Jesus Christ.
Do You Love Me?
Jesus sees love as the basic qualification for Christian service as we read in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 but none of them can take the place of love for Christ and for others.
Do you love Jesus enough to overcome your failures and accept His restoration as Peter did? He is waiting for your answer. Pray about it.
Loving Father, please take all my life: my triumph and failures and bring me closer to a living a life for Christ.
Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble. They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. – Proverbs 4:14-17
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