This site uses cookies to provide you with more responsive and personalized service and to collect certain information about your use of the site.  You can change your cookie settings through your browser.  If you continue without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies.  See our Privacy Policy for more information.

Failing Jesus

When we think of Peter, disciple of Jesus, we often remember how he denied knowing Jesus three times after the crucifixion. But before we consider his failure, we also want to emphasize that Peter finished well. According to tradition—and as Jesus hinted in John 21:18–19—Peter was martyred for his faith by crucifixion. When the time came, Peter said he wasn’t worthy to die in the same manner as Christ, and so he asked to be nailed to his cross upside- down. What God-glorifying humility!

As we read in today’s passage, Peter failed his Lord by denying Him three times. He failed even though Jesus had directly warned him (Luke 22:34) and prayed for him (v. 32). He failed despite specifically declaring he would remain loyal even if Jesus faced prison and death (v. 33). He failed not once but three times in a row (vv. 56–60). At the very moment the rooster crowed, his eyes met Jesus’ from across a courtyard (vv. 60–61). No wonder “he went outside and wept bitterly” (v. 62).

Why would Jesus want a disciple like that? Yet in John 21:15–19, Jesus mercifully forgave and restored Peter, despite his colossal failure. His three questions and affirmations beautifully balance Peter’s three previous denials. Peter didn’t have to earn his way back. Jesus’ love covered it all. He didn’t just restore Peter to fellowship, He called him to a lifetime of pastoral ministry!

What’s more, guided by the Spirit, Peter told his story to others. Anyone who has heard or read the Gospels—that is, the entire church through all of history!—knows how badly Peter failed, and how perfectly Christ loved him and loves us. To God be the glory!

>> Do you ever fear that your failure is so bad that God cannot forgive you? The apostle Paul asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” The answer? No one, not even we ourselves, can do that! Take heart, be encouraged—we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:35–39).

Pray with Us

Today’s story of Jesus’ forgiving and restoring Peter reassures us of God’s love. We can indeed take heart, be encouraged, and thank our Savior. Nothing can separate us from His love!

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Brad Baurain has worked as a writer and editor for Today in the Word since 1993. Currently, he serves as associate professor and TESOL program head at Moody Bible Institute. Brad has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has also taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Brad and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Munster, Indiana.

Browse Devotions by Date