We are going to continue with the series of posts on God Encounters. This week we are going to look Peter and how Jesus restored him after his denial and/or backsliding. The first thing to see and remember is the Jesus predicts Peter’s denial of Him in John 13:36-38 which says: Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.
Then we see Jesus prediction coming true. John 18:15-18, 25-27 – Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought Peter in. Then the slave-girl who kept the door said to Peter, “ You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself. Verse 25 - Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.
Imagine how Peter must feel having denied the Lord three times and then Christ dying and raising again and he would still have these guilty feelings even though he is excited about what Christ raising meant. I imagine as passionate of a guy as Peter was – the guilt was probably eating him up inside and so he thought he should just go back to fishing and leave the ministering behind. The Lord though had other plans for Peter and came and approached Peter – look at John 21:4-8, 15-17: But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. Verse 15 – So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him,“Tend My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, 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, “ Tend My sheep.”
What we see here in this is that Peter was restored to his previous place of leadership after backsliding. He went on and preached the sermon on Pentecost that became foundational to building the church. Peter was the leader of ministry to the Jews, while Paul was leader of ministry to the Gentiles. Peter had a profitable life of ministry after he denied Christ and was restored. Tradition says he died in Rome sometime between 64-66 AD Peter’s reported last words to his wife, "Remember the Lord," are certainly consistent with his message to Christians in difficult times which we read in 1 and 2 Peter. So then the question for us is this: What can we learn from this encounter that Peter has where Jesus restores him to ministry after he denied Christ and backslid?
First thing is before a God Encounter we need to realize that: Good intentions are not enough to keep us faithful to Christ. Peter told the Lord that he would never deny Him. He even boasted in the passage, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You. Yet human strength alone was not enough, Peter denied the Lord three times. How often do we do the same thing? We think everyone should just be impressed that we did something with good intentions. We think our good intentions will keep us faithful to Christ. We believe that be we are strong people that we can stand because of good intentions. We have all heard the old saying – the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We need to be reminded of 1 Corinthians 10:12 which says, So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! Our good intentions will never hold us up – only Christ will. Your good intentions will get you nowhere, just like they got Peter nowhere, so stop trying to convince yourself and others about how good your intentions are and do things God’s way. It is always God’s way over good intentions – ALWAYS.
Have you ever struggled with thinking good intentions were what you needed? Have you ever had someone who thought you should be impressed with their good intentions? How did you handle it?