Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
Everyone knows the story of Judas. He was the great betrayer of Christ. For silver, for mere money, he betrayed the Savior. For him, there was no Disney ending. There was suicide. There was no chance to redeem himself.
Even at one point, he realized his error. In Matthew 27, it says: “Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ They said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself.’ And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.“ (ESV)
There was not a happy ending for Judas. A man who had walked with Jesus for years and yet let deceit enter his heart.
There’s another betrayal of sorts mentioned of a disciple before Jesus dies. It is of one of the three disciples who are closest to Jesus. It is, of course, Peter, who denied Christ three times: “’Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.’” Peter said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.‘” (Luke 22:31-34 ESV)
Peter’s denial wasn’t as strong as Judas’ betrayal. But at that moment, it must have felt like it. Think about it for a moment. Peter had heard all of the teachings of Christ. Even this one: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33 ESV)
After the death of Christ, Peter must have felt the lowest of low. We know that he did. In John 21, we find the disciples out fishing. Peter must have still felt the sting of his betrayal and denial. The disciples went out to fish. They were returning to their pre-Jesus careers.
Suddenly, on the shore, appeared Jesus. He said, “Not catching anything? Try the other side of the boat.” They didn’t recognize him. Surely they were thinking, “What do you think? That we’ve been casting on one side of the boat?” When they did, they caught so many fish they couldn’t hold them.
Suddenly, Peter realized it was Jesus. It was a moment only Scripture could capture. Hold that thought.
I was in a position almost three years ago when I fell from ministry. I had committed adultery while pastoring a church. A lot of people told me I didn’t deserve the love of God ever again. That God could never use me again. I believed them. There I sat, in a proverbial boat, like Peter. I wondered where God was. Surely He was out there. Surely the Savior who had called me had not given up on me.
I was the one who had denied Him. I was the one who had walked away from Him and His calling. I was the one who had fallen. Had He seen it coming? He had seen Peter’s fall. But what was the purpose? It was still my fault.
When I was called to ministry, the passage that God had laid on my heart was from John 21. Maybe again I would find solace from it. And I did.
He jumped it the water and swam. Peter was like that. Impetuous. Guns blazing. He wanted to be where Christ was. He knew he had messed up, but he knew even more that he wanted to be where His Savior and friend was. So he jumped out of the boat and swam to Him.
Then came the famous restoration of Peter. I won’t go over it again for you here. But when Peter followed boldly by jumping out of the boat, after his miserable failure of denying Christ, Jesus restored Him.
Similarly, when we fail Christ, He’s waiting on us. To swim to Him. To get out of the boat of our regular routine and follow Him anew. That’s where I found Him after I fell. I had to have courage to seek Him out. When I did, He restored me. Fully, completely. He forgave me. What else did I expect from the merciful Christ?
Ray Carroll is author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.” He blogs at www.fallenpastor.com.