What to do when you’ve really messed up…really bad


Peter was not only a disciple of Jesus, but was considered one of the “inner three”. He, along with James and John are mentioned on multiple occasions as being the only ones who were present, or whom Jesus took with Him, when an extraordinary manifestation of His power and glory occurred. Albeit briefly, he at least got out of the boat and walked on water. When Jesus asked His disciples who they believed He was, Peter was quick to respond that Jesus was the Christ.

It was Peter who boasted that he would never forsake the Lord, even if everyone else did.
But he did. He responds by withdrawing.
Ever feel like this? You messed up and you messed up bad.
You knew better, but you did it anyways.
You feel horrible about it. You’re ashamed.
Sure you have. We all have. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).

Peter—the Rock—had messed up. His sin was a flat-out denial of Jesus. Not just once or twice, but three times, and to a little girl. The “Rock” had crumbled. His failure was so dramatic, so epic, his story could have ended there, but it didn't. Peter was supposed to be the leader. He had walked on water. He had confessed Jesus as the Messiah. Now, he had denied Him. He never even got the opportunity to tell Jesus that he was sorry. How could he regain any self-respect or credibility with his friends?

Like Peter, we feel the shame of our sin. Sin isolates us. It distances us. It tells us we’re the only ones. It says that our sin is uniquely disqualifying, that no one else has ever messed up quite like it. It makes us the exception in the worst way. We’re the one person who can’t be forgiven; we’ve done the one thing that cannot be set right; we’ve gone past the point of return; we’ve fallen too far.

Shame tells us God will never use you and that He doesn't want anything to do with you. Shame, however, is not a total liar; it just tells us our story as it stands without Jesus.

John 21:4-7 is a reminder that Jesus always meets us where we are. Peter has returned to what he was doing B.C. He’s back to his old way of life, but Jesus shows up. The scene is somewhat of an re-enactment from when Peter first met Jesus. Once again, Jesus tells him to cast the nets on the other side of the boat and sure enough they have so many fish that the nets are about to break. It’s then that Peter recognizes that it’s Jesus. Jesus had called Peter to be his disciple, to be a “fisher of men” (Mt. 4:19) and you see that was his true calling. It’s your calling. It’s mine. God is somewhat of a hopeless romantic. He refuses to give up on us. When Jesus had first called Peter to come and follow, He was inviting him to be a disciple, an apprentice. It meant that Jesus believed that Peter could do it. Did you get that? It means that Jesus believed in him. It means Jesus believes in you. Sin will no doubt separate us from God. This is as old as the Garden of Eden (c.f., “They went and hid themselves” Gen. 3:8), yet God comes looking. Maybe due to some terrible mistake you’ve been avoiding God, but He’s looking for you. He still has a plan for your life. His love will never stop chasing you down.

To be forgiven is to be free. Free from guilt, free from shame, free from the power of sin that seeks to enslave us. Free to be what God made us to be—image bearers reflecting His love into the world.

Peter’s life changed that day. He went on to lead the start of a movement that would be called the “Church.” He preached boldly. He shepherded a flock of believers and taught them what it means to be forgiven and free. A deep love for Jesus anchored him through even the most difficult of days.

And it all began that day that Jesus found him on the shores and restored him.
Why not let Him restore you today as well?

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 Jn. 1:9)

More this Sunday at 8:30am or 10am at North Chapel’s church services.

To read past blog postings by Dr. Bobby Brewer (Lead Pastor of North Chapel Bible Church), Select Here