It was an utter failure — a sin that couldn’t have been predetermined, something he didn’t know he was even capable of doing. And afterward, the realization of his failure brought instant regret and bitter tears, but he couldn’t take it back. It was done and now it seemed he would have to live forever with the remorse.
I’m talking about the Apostle Peter and his rejection of Jesus.
Of all the disciples, Peter was the most outspoken — especially about following Jesus.
This is the same disciple who said, “Master, just where are you going?” Jesus answered, “You can’t now follow me where I’m going. You will follow later.” “Master,” said Peter, “why can’t I follow now? I’ll lay down my life for you!” (John 13:36-37, MSG).
I believe Peter meant what he said. He had every intention of following Jesus always. Don’t we all? But in a pressure situation, sometimes our actions don’t follow our intentions.
Jesus responded: “Really? You’ll lay down your life for me? The truth is that before the rooster crows, you’ll deny me three times” (John 13:38 MSG).
I’m sure Peter thought, “No way… never.” And then he did it. He denied Jesus, not once, but three times just as Jesus predicted. And when he realized his failure, he wept bitterly, unable to see how this could ever be fixed.
I’ve been in Peter’s shoes before. The sin was different, but it doesn’t matter. Regret is an awful torment. Grief, repentance, and bitter tears. Yet, unable to reverse the wrong.
Until the mercy of God shows up…
In the last chapter of Mark’s gospel, we have the account of Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome approaching the tomb of Jesus in hopes to anoint His body. Instead, they find an angelic being sitting inside the open tomb — and no Jesus.
The angel said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples — and Peter — that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you” (Mark 16:6-7).
What a loving, merciful, and thoughtful God we serve. The angel could have easily said to the women, “Go tell the disciples…” But he obviously had specific instructions to single out Peter’s name in the announcement. Why? Because God sees our grief and repentance.
I’m sure in the mind of Peter, he thinks the death of Jesus is possibly his fault. He knows for sure he didn’t help. But God saw His regret and wanted to make sure he knew Jesus had risen from the dead.
Two small words carrying so much love: “…and Peter…” Make sure you tell Peter too.
Regrets may be inevitable but they are not invisible to God. His heart is often moved with compassion for broken people. From initially sending Jesus to the world, to seeing the multitudes with no shepherd, to an angel specifically naming Peter in a triumphant announcement, God’s love and compassion are clearly seen.
So the next time you feel buried under regret, remember He sees and He is the same yesterday, today, and always. God is not mad at your mistake. His mercy endures forever.