As a child, whenever we would play a game and we did not like the outcome, we would shout, “DO OVER.” It meant you could start over. Didn’t like the roll of the dice-“DO OVER” Didn’t like the outcome of your opponent’s turn-“DO OVER.” What would happen if we could have “do overs” in real life? This thought has given birth to many movies over the years. Someone is given a second chance to “do over” the mistakes of their life thereby improving their life and the lives of others.
Do overs are a reality only in the movie and children’s games. The mistakes and sins we commit each day, each year cannot be erased. But Our God is a God of second chances! Each day God provides us with the opportunity to start our lives fresh, to wipe the slate clean. Lam 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Nowhere is this seen more profoundly than in the life of the apostle Peter. Peter probably had the most intimate relationship with Christ of all the disciples. Up until his denial of Christ, wherever Jesus was, Peter was there also. Peter is referred to almost two hundred times in the New Testament, more than any other disciple (John is referred to only thirty-one times). He was the first to be called by name by Jesus (John 1:40-42) and is the central character in many of the stories in the Gospels.
Peter was passionate, profound, yet impetuous. He was a fisherman, the equivalent of a blue-collar working man. Yet Jesus saw in Peter the making of a great disciple and evangelist. Upon their first meeting, Jesus bestows on Simon a new name, Peter or Cephas which means rock. It does not describe what Simon is but what he will become.
Throughout the Gospels we see Simon Peter saying and doing some amazing things. We also witness his mistakes, his pride, and his sinfulness. We watch him go from the incredible high of walking on water to the deep despair of denying his friend, the one he loved. I wonder if Peter would have liked a “do over” after that night in the courtyard.
Fortunately for Simon Peter and for us, the story does not end there. Peter, feeling the weight of his mistakes, decides to return to the life he knows best, fishing. His is out on the boat with the other disciples fishing and not catching anything. A voice from the shore tells them to cast their nets to the side. Peter recognizes it as the Lord, jumps into the lake and swims to shore. They feast on the bounty of fish they have caught. As they are relaxing after the meal, warmed by the presence of Jesus, Jesus asks Peter three questions. It is actually the same question asked three different ways.
“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, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him 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, “Tend my sheep.” 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 everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep….And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:15-17, 19.
Three times the question was asked, but not because Jesus needed Peter to repeat himself. Jesus asked him three times, once for each time Peter denied knowing Christ. Jesus was sending Peter a message. I forgive you, I forgive you, I forgive you. He chose to do this in the company of the other men to show them his forgiveness and restoration of Peter.
This moment became a turning point in Peter’s life. He would leave the fishing business for good and become a shepherd. Two months after this encounter with Jesus, Peter would preach the most powerful sermon of his life. He would cast out his gospel net and three thousand souls would be caught. He would go on to preach before rulers and magistrates, fishermen and shepherds. He would be jailed, beaten and crucified for his devotion. He would become “Peter, the rock,” all because our God is a God of second chances, and third chances, and……….
We don’t get “do overs” in this life, but with Jesus’ forgiveness we do get new starts. He mercifully covers our sins each day and sets us on the right path. The gospel of Luke says, ….His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him. …He embraced his chosen child, Israel; he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.” (Luke 1:50, 54 The Message)
I pray that you will take time to consider God’s mercy in your life, how it flows in on us wave after wave; how God piles it on high. Thank Him each day for the opportunity to live out your devotion to Him.