Have you ever messed up? Have you ever messed up so bad that you thought you could never bounce back from it?
Have you ever denied knowing your best friend and mentor at the time they needed you the most?
The Apostle Peter fell into that category. He openly denied Jesus at the most crucial time. Peter even denied him multiple times! Still, Peter was able to bounce back from that, he was able to recover from failure.
John Chapter 21
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
1. Our failure is met by God’s grace.
It’s no accident that Jesus spoke to Peter about forgiveness. God forgives an unlimited amount of times. That doesn’t mean that we can’t blow a specific opportunity, but it does mean that God constantly gives us much more than we deserve. Peter didn’t deserve another chance, but he got it. He recovered from failure and bounced back!
2. Face your failure.
Peter not only failed, he almost drowned because of it! At the beginning of John chapter 21, Peter is fishing in a boat and sees Jesus afar off, he jumps in the water to get to him. Think about this. Peter sees the person who he has denied, the person who he has failed. Peter doesn’t run away. Peter doesn’t hide. Peter goes toward him. How do you act when you see someone you’ve failed? Do you ignore and evade? Or do you go toward them?
3. Learn from your failure.
Have you ever kept making the same mistake over and over again? Isn’t it terrible? That’s true failure. Peter never denied Jesus again. Some historical sources state that Peter was faced with crucifixion. To get out of it, all he had to do was deny Jesus’ resurrection. This exchange from John chapter 21 happened after Jesus death. All Peter had to when faced with crucifixion is to deny that the resurrection ever happened. He didn’t, instead, he was crucified in Rome. Tradition states that he was crucified upside down because he didn’t think he was worthy to die like Jesus.
4. Your failure isn’t final.
God is the God of unlimited chances. You can fail right now and your slate will be immediately cleaned. Yes, there may be some consequences for your failure. You could have hurt people, relationships could be broken, there could be repercussions at your job, you could even be arrested (depending on the failure!). You’ll have to own up to those consequences. But you can immediately start clean. Peter went on to do incredible things after his failure. God used him to turn the world “right side up”. Peter’s failure wasn’t final. Neither is yours, you can recover from failure. You can bounce back!