Satan hates you (part 2). So, Peter makes one of the most tragic errors of his life by denying Christ. Who knows what went through his head in those first minutes after the rooster crowed? Or in the first few days? But I'm almost sure of what went through Satan's head. He probably believed he had Peter exactly where he wanted him. Frustrated. Depressed. Discouraged. Maybe he even believed he could push Peter towards the same end that Judas would eventually meet--suicide. After all, how do you reject Jesus and live (happily) to tell about it?
That got me thinking about something else. Do you imagine Peter ever heard a rooster crow for the rest of his life without thinking back to that night? Don't you imagine there was a temptation there for Peter to replay the scene and relive the guilt every time his "alarm clock" went off?
There is a wonderful lesson here for all of us. Satan wants you to dwell in guilt while Christ wants to offer you freedom. And the choice is really ours. We can give in to the belief that we are never whole again once we fail. We can hear Christ say, "You are forgiven" and still fall back to a condemned life every time our roosters crow.
But Jesus offered Peter forgiveness and--here is the key part--Peter received it. He allowed the sacrifice of Jesus to pay His price. He didn't spend the rest of his life trying to make it up to God. Did Peter fail again? You bet. Was he still prone to listen to the old nature that pulled at him? Absolutely. But Peter's encounters with Jesus enabled him to understand something we often fail to remember...Jesus' forgiveness is complete.
We confess. We surrender. We repent...and our work is done. Jesus has accomplished the rest. We simply must live in the sweet acknowledgement that He is more than enough for all we have done.
Jesus restored Peter yet again in a beautiful story in the end of John. He asked Peter if he loved him three times...once for each denial that Peter had offered to Jesus. What a sweet picture of grace. No, I don't imagine Peter ever heard the rooster's crow without thinking back to that night. I don't imagine that Satan allowed him to without screaming loudly in his ear "You are a failure and a loser. How could God love you?" But I also imagine Peter never saw another cross, never walked by another tomb nor stood by a fishing boat near the sea without thinking about how Jesus had made his failures irrelevant. Peter understood--I pray you and I can as well. God's forgiveness is complete because of that first Easter Sunday and the empty tomb.