We’ve all done it – had times when our computer or phone wasn’t working as it was supposed to so we rebooted it. Sometimes all it takes to fix a problem and get back on track is a reset.
Peter needed one – and Jesus gave it to him. In Luke 22 it’s recorded that after Peter denied Jesus, and he realized what he had just done, he wept bitterly. The stinging pain of his failure caused him to think he needed to give up on his ministry calling and go back to fishing. But it’s there, in John 21, that Jesus appears to him and lets him press that reset button.
Three times Jesus asks Peter if he really loves him. Peter doesn’t understand what’s going on. It’s hard enough for him to see Jesus after he failed him so miserably, but yet to have his love for him questioned? That hurts.
What he comes to understand, though, is that it is grace: For each of the three times that he denied Jesus, Jesus gives him the chance to one-by-one wipe them away.
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. - Isaiah 43:25
There is grace for every failure – grace that blots them out as if they never happened, and lets you start again.
There at the Sea of Galilee, Jesus says the same words, in the same place, that he had said more than three years before: Follow me.
The message is simple but powerful: Peter, do you remember how, in this very place, in response to those words, you left everything behind you and followed me? Do it again.
Likewise, when we feel like we have messed up so badly that we have forfeited Jesus’ call on our lives, he offers us a reset button. I have blotted out your failure. I have forgiven you. Now forgive yourself and do the things you did at first. Just start again.
There’s a story of another man who wept bitterly and felt all was lost. He too needed a reset button – but not because he messed up badly, because someone else did.
When David’s best friend Jonathon confirmed the fact that yes, his father Saul was bent on killing him, the Bible says they both wept – but David wept the most (1 Sam 20:41). Jonathon wept because he knew his relationship with his best friend was over. David had to flee. But David wept for an entirely different reason.
We have to go back into David’s history to understand. Here’s the background:
The prophet Samuel was told by God to go to Jesse’s house to anoint one of his sons as king. King Saul was on his way out. Samuel was the most respected man in the nation. Yet unlike the rest of his brothers, David wasn’t invited to the dinner. We would all hope that if an important person came to see our father, he would proudly introduce us. Far from that, Jesse wasn’t proud of David; he was ashamed of him.
We are given hints about this when David says that he was conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5). He is saying that he was illegitimate, born out of wedlock. He lived as a foreigner, a stranger to his family (Psalm 69:8). He never felt like he belonged.
Rejected by his father and older brothers, when King Saul took notice of him and made him his armor-bearer (his personal assistant), David felt vindicated. Finally, someone accepts me. King Saul met a deep emotional need David had for acceptance. Saul affirmed David. And that felt so good. David even became the king’s son-in-law.
But now, jealous because of the success the Lord had given David, Saul wants to kill him. And this, the ultimate of rejection, stung.
Everyone wants to be affirmed. Everyone needs to be accepted. And at some point in our lives, all of us, I think, have experienced the sudden rejection, disapproval, of someone that meant a lot to us. Maybe it was a boss, a parent, a teacher, mentor, or even a pastor. Maybe you didn’t do anything to deserve it, and there’s nothing you can do to fix it, but don’t let a choice someone else has made cause you to give up on your destiny. It might knock you down, but don’t let it knock you out; it might set you back but don’t let it shut you down.
God has said, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jer 29:11) – and he hasn’t changed his mind.
The Bible tells us In the course of time…the men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king (2 Sam 2:1-4).
David needed to decide that he wasn’t going to let his setbacks and disappointments make him quit. He needed to keep on going. He needed to start again. And when he did, God did what only God could do.
Whether you are like Peter – tempted to quit because of your own failures, or David, the victim of someone else’s unfair treatment, God hasn’t changed his mind about you. He has great plans for you. His purposes shall be accomplished in your life. But you need to let go of the past, forgive those who hurt you, forgive yourself, and start again.
Go ahead. Press the reset button. A great future awaits.