Have you ever felt like you’ve just made the biggest mistake of your life, and nothing you do can make it right?
Jesus’ disciple Peter might’ve felt that way when he denied knowing his beloved Lord not once, nor twice, but three times—and with cursing and swearing. After spending three years with Jesus, seeing Him heal many sick people (including his family), and even walking on water with Him, this must’ve been crushing for the fisherman who’d claimed, that very same day, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” (Luke 22:33 NKJV)
I’m sure the bitter irony wasn’t lost on Peter: In his bid for self-preservation, he denied the One he had sworn his loyalty to.
Worst of all, Jesus was present to hear Peter’s stinging words of denial in the courtyard (one Bible version even records Peter saying, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” (Matt 26:74 NLT)). As Jesus turned to look at him, I can’t imagine the overwhelming guilt that must’ve shot through Peter’s heart at that moment.
But the question is: How did Jesus look at Peter?
I don’t believe it was an accusatory glare, a disappointed frown or even an “I-told-you-so” look (even though the Lord had actually predicted Peter’s denials beforehand (see Luke 22:34)). Because later, even after being senselessly ridiculed by the Jews, wounded beyond recognition by the Roman soldiers’ whips, and having nails driven through His hands and feet onto the cross, Jesus could still say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Instead, Jesus looked at Peter with forgiveness. Tenderness. With eyes that said, “Hey Peter, you may have failed, but remember that I’ve prayed for you that your confidence in Me (not yourself!) will not fail.” (see Luke 22:32, AMP)
And Jesus spared no lengths in pursuing Peter with His love. After He’d risen from the dead, He told His disciples—and Peter—through an angel about His whereabouts, making special mention of Peter. In fact, Jesus probably had a private meeting with him, the details of which we aren’t privy to (Luke 24:34). In that encounter, I believe the Lord restored Peter from the guilt that must’ve been gnawing away at him.
Besides that, did you know that the Lord even cared to heal Peter’s painful memories of denying Him? The fateful incident where he denied Jesus occurred by a fire, but Jesus also made a breakfast of fish and bread on a fire for the disciples, after He rose from the dead (John 21:9). So from then on, the smell of fire wouldn’t remind Peter any longer of his grave mistake, but of the Lord’s love for him.
It was the Lord’s no-holds-barred love for Peter that enabled him to rise up in boldness, preach and get three thousand souls saved later on (check it out in Acts 2).
So…if there’s a mistake in your life that you just can’t get over, know that the Lord isn’t shaking His head in disappointment at you (Rom 8:1). Jesus still loves you, precisely because He bore the judgment for your every failure when He died on the cross. And it’s by receiving His unconditional love that will cause you, like Peter, to go from the pits to being more than a conqueror in life!