Focal Passage: John 21:15-23
As you think back over the course of your life, do you ever struggle with regret?
For most of us, regrets are plentiful and painful, and some have changed the direction of our lives. But regardless of the mistakes we’ve made in the past, nothing compares to the feeling of regret that we often carry after we’ve failed the Lord.
It could have been a consequential sin that you committed years ago, and you continue to feel guilt and shame to this day. Perhaps during a time of crisis you turned your back on the Lord, and have sensed distance from God ever since.
Perhaps you had an opportunity to take a stand for Christ in public, but you became filled with fear and followed the crowd in opposition.
In these times we often wonder if God still loves us, if He will ever forgive us, if He will ever use us again, of if we will ever sense His presence like we did before. These deep feelings of regret often cause us to wish, “If I could just go back to that moment and do something different …”
There was a time in Peter’s life when he was filled with all of these emotions. It came in the days after Jesus had been crucified and raised again, when he looked back on that dreadful evening when he denied Jesus three times.
Even though Jesus was alive and had revealed Himself to the disciples as the victorious Savior of the world, Peter didn’t feel worthy to continue his calling as an apostle.
We learn in John 21:1-3 that Peter became so discouraged that instead of waiting for Jesus to meet them at the appointed place in Galilee, he went back to his old career as a fisherman, leading some of the disciples to follow him. Peter was filled with deep regret and assumed his life of following Jesus was over.
However, while the disciples were out fishing, Jesus called to them from the shore, gave them a miraculous catch of fish, and invited them to have breakfast with Him. Once they joined Him, John notes that Jesus was cooking over a “charcoal fire” (John 21:9).
While this detail may seem ordinary, we must remember that the only other place in the New Testament where a “charcoal fire” is mentioned is in John 18:18, where Peter is warming himself next to one while he denies Jesus three times. Therefore, when Peter saw the fire and felt the heat and smelled the smoke, he was immediately taken back to the most shameful and regretful moment of his life. But rather than leaving Peter in his shame, Jesus approached him with grace.
Following breakfast, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” These three questions were intentional because Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus wanted to know if Peter loved him more than his old career, more than anyone else, even more than he loved himself.
Peter responded positively each time, indicating that he loved Jesus above everything else in life. Then Jesus restored him to ministry. What a reminder that despite our sinful regrets, our resurrected Lord comes to us with grace and gives us the ability to start over after we fail. Let this truth comfort you today. Soli Deo Gloria! B&R