Be Forgiven And Restored
54 Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. 55 Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56 And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” 57 But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” 58 And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
This afternoon, we’re going to look at a very familiar story that we can all relate to. We’re going to look at the Life of Peter, and how he felt by failing Jesus. You see…we all have our past that we wish we can erase. I am sure I am not the only one who carries regrets.
We’re going to look at letting go of ourselves! Ooh, this is gonna be good. We’re talking about letting go of our past and moving forward. You see…if we cant let go of our past, we can never move forward. 2019 is done, who wants to go back there? I would like to see what God has instore for 2020.
Although we can't change our past, God can planned our future. You see, here’s the thing about our past. It doesn’t always stay in the past. Isn’t that true? Anyone ever bring up something from the past. A reminder of what you did that time and the hurt you inflicted on yourself or to someone else.
Sometimes, we can remember the funny things that have happened which lead to lots of laughter, the things that aren’t hurtful. Maybe they were at one time, but we know we’ve been forgiven and we can laugh about them now. We do need to make sure that those reminders about the past, are not with the intention to hurt another person.
Maybe you’ve blown up in anger more than a few times. You wish you could hit the rewind button and take it all back. But you can’t! You can’t take back the hurt you inflicted. Or maybe it’s the recurring sin, which becomes a constant reminder.
Maybe it’s the expectations that you had for yourself years ago of what life would look like. But, today, it’s not what you thought and not in a good way. The past doesn't always stay in the past.
If anybody understood what that was like, it was one of the disciples, Peter.
He's with the rest of the disciples at the Last Supper, the night that Jesus was betrayed, would go to trial, and later be crucified. When Jesus looked at His disciples and said, "Some of you will deny me and some of you will desert me." But Peter, who was never slow to speak, said what? He said, "No, Lord, even if all of these other people "betray you, deny you, not me, "even if I have to look death itself in the face, "I won't deny you."
We’ve all been there right! We make promises…we try to remain true to our word…our actions. And sometimes, we fall short and fail. And there the pain/hurt comes in. Have you ever run out on someone, maybe it was yourself, or a loved one, or even God. Here's what happened next in Luke 22:61-62 “61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.”
Imagine you're Peter, and the Son of God, your leader, mentor, the Savior -- who's on trial for something He didn't do, who was going to die on a cross for sins He didn't commit in order to save people just like Peter. Peter saw Jesus perform countless miracles, yet Peter had just denied knowing Him, not once, not twice, but three times.
Jesus turns and looks him in the eye. What did Peter feel? Guilt! I can't believe I just did that. Shame, what if the other disciples find out what I did? Regret, I wish I could take it back. And while you’ve never seen that look from Jesus, many of us have seen that look before, haven't we?
It's a loved one that we let down, it's somebody at work that we talked about and they found out about it. It's somebody that we go to school with - - that we didn't stand up for when we should have. You see, we can’t go back. Yet our past continues to remind us it’s there.
And our enemy uses that, doesn't he? Because he reminds us of what we've done, and our enemy says because of what we've done, we’re unforgivable. We've done too much, or we didn't do enough. we're unforgivable. But he doesn't stop there. He says not only are you unforgivable, you're also unlovable, because if people really knew, if the people who were sitting next to you really knew about you, if they knew your secrets, they wouldn't love you. Because you're unforgivable and unlovable, the enemy closes the door on us by telling us we’re useless. We have no future. God can’t use you and nobody else can too.
There lies the problem– If we can't let go of our past, we can't take hold of the future God has for us. And the good news is that Jesus doesn't leave us holding onto our past. Instead He comes to us and reminds us that we are worth it. We are loved. We are forgiven. Jesus did it with Peter. He came to Peter after Peter denied Him.
Peter and some of the other disciples went back to what they were doing before they met Jesus, fishing. One day, Jesus appeared to them on the shore. They didn't know it was Jesus, and He called out to them, "Hey, throw your nets on the other side of the boat." They hadn't caught anything, so they threw their nets out, and they caught so many fish they couldn't pull them back in, at which point Peter recognized, "That's Jesus." So… this time, Peter didn’t try to walk on the water, he jumped into the water, and swam to shore. They ate together and then Jesus spoke to Peter, and here's what Jesus said to Peter, who’s full of guilt, shame, insecurity and regret. when Peter was full of guilt, shame, insecurity, and regret.
John 21:15 says - - "After breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John." Jesus used Peter's full name, and Peter had to be thinking - - here it comes, right? Jesus is going to lay it on. He’s going to remind him of what he did! "Peter, are you ashamed of yourself? Do you feel guilty for what you did? Do you realize I needed you and you deserted me?”
But that's not what Jesus said to Peter. Instead, Jesus said, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" A simple question, do you love me? Jesus didn't ask just once, but He asked Peter 3 times.
15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
Do you think Peter had forgotten just a few days earlier, he denied Jesus 3 times, and a third time Jesus asked him, "Peter, do you love me?" Here's what the Bible says next. It says what? Peter was hurt that Jesus would ask him a third time. It was a sign of caring by Jesus. Jesus could have ignored what happened.
"Hey, let's just not worry about that. "Let's act like it didn't happen." But instead he brought it up, asking 3 times, why? Because God is far more concerned with lasting healing in our life than short-term feelings. Jesus understood this, that when you have a wound in your life, you need to clean it out so that it can heal properly.
It's like when you would cut yourself as a kid, and you were with your parent/grandparents, and they'd get the hydrogen peroxide and pour it on there, and it would sting and it would bubble, and they would blow on it. (It never did anything when they blew on it.)
It was just to distract you. They put that on you, or that green soap that burned because they understood you have to clean out the wound for it to heal properly. Jesus came to Peter and said, "Let's clean out the wound "so that you can heal properly."
We do this so the enemy can't continue to speak lies into our lives that we’re unforgivable, unlovable, and unusable? We must accept this truth, that God's grace is bigger than our sin. God's grace is bigger than our past.
We know this because the Bible tells us. In 1 John 1:9…
1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
God simply says, "If you confess your sins, I/Jesus am faithful and just and I will forgive you”. Isn’t that great!! Why? Because God’s grace is bigger than our sins.
Ultimately our standing with God is determined by our relationship, not the rules that we've broken. Have you ever made a mistake? Committed a sin? Ever hurt someone?
And you expect to be verbally beaten, maybe spanked, or whatever it is and whatever age you were. And instead of a beat down . . . you hear, “you’re loved, the past can’t be changed, learn from it, grow from it, but know that you are forgiven.” Isn’t that the most precious and powerful gift we can receive?
We have to make the decision, am I going to close the door to those lies that I continue to hear or will I believe who God says I am. If you're in Jesus Christ, you are forgiven, you are loved, and you are a child of God. In John 1:12-13, we read…
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the [a]right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
You see, when you are someone's child, your relationship isn’t based on the rules you broke, it's based on the relationship you have with the parent. You become a child of God. You are born again! You have a spiritual rebirth. As Jesus tells us in John 3:16-17 …
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
God didn’t send His Son to condemn, to beat you up about your past. He came to save you, to give you abundant life. To offer you freedom and power and grace and mercy and strength.
God doesn’t hold our past against us. He cleans it up. As the writer of Hebrews tells us on 2 occasions - -
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
Here this great news in so many other passages of the Bible, from the Old Testament to the New Testament. God will not remember your sins. He will not throw them back in your face. He’s not going to remind you of them and beat you up over them. He has forgiven you and released you. As long as you confess them to God, repent of them . . . you are forgiven.
Understand that God loves to use imperfect people to proclaim His message. The beauty and the power is the fact that all of us are imperfect. In a strange way, the only qualification to be used by God is not having a perfect past, and to proclaim Jesus as your Lord and Savior. It’s to believe in the Christ child. That He came into the world for us.
You see, this story today about Peter is about Peter's past, it's about Peter's failure, it's about Peter denying Jesus, it's about Peter deserting the call God had on his life. Isn’t that right?
Well . . . not really!
The story is about Jesus Christ! You see, it's not a story about what Peter has done in his past, it's a story of what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross, it's a story of what he's doing, and it's a story of what he wants to do. You see, when I get it right, and I don't get it right every single day, but when I get it right and I look to my past, do you know what I see? I don't see my own failure. I see God's faithfulness in my life. And when I get it right and I look to the past, you know what I see? I don't see how bad I was, I see how good God is in my life. And when I look to the past, I don't see defeat in my life, I see God's victory in my life.
And for you, I don't know what's in your past, but I do know what God wants to have in your future, and it's this. He wants to write the greatest story that's ever been written, and it's the story of Jesus Christ, what he's done in your life, what he's doing, and what he wants to do through you. My prayer for each of us as we move into a new year is to follow what Paul did –
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have [a]apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Let’s not let our past determine our future. YES!!! We all fail and at times we will fail. But we cannot stay there. I am thankful the Jesus restored Peter, because He loved him so much that Jesus didn’t want Peter to remain where he was. Jesus had bigger plans for Peter. And because of the Bible we know the story. What Jesus did for Peter, he can do for you and I. “You cannot go with God and stay where you are.” (Preview from Experiencing God)
Let us Pray:
Pastor Richard Santos
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