Receiving God's Forgiveness
Craig von Buseck
CBN.com Contributing Writer
of the most interesting and dynamic relationships that we see in the Bible
is between Jesus and Simon Peter. There are some key places where we witness special
interaction -- the first is when Peter is still a fisherman on the shores
of the Sea of Galilee.
When he had finished speaking, Jesus said to Simon, "Now go out where it is
deeper and let down your nets, and you will catch many fish." "Master," Simon
replied, "we worked hard all last night and didn't catch a thing. But if you
say so, we'll try again." And this time their nets were so full they began
to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon
both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking."
So what does Simon do -- this crusty old fisherman with a lifetime full of
maybe less-than-virtuous stories, and the language to boot?
When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before
Jesus and said, "Oh, Lord, please leave me -- I'm too much of a sinner to
be around you." For he was awestruck by the size of their catch… Jesus
replied to Simon, "Don't be afraid! From now on you'll be fishing for people!"
(read the whole story in Luke 5:3-10).
The Bible tells us that as soon as they landed, Simon Peter left everything and followed
Jesus. And so he was recruited into a three-year graduate school course
on discipleship with the Lord.
Another significant interaction between the two happened during the last
supper on the night before Jesus was crucified. When Jesus tells Peter that
Satan has asked to sift him like wheat, Peter declares, "Lord, I am ready
to go to prison with you, and even to die with you." Jesus responds, "Peter,
let me tell you something. The rooster will not crow tomorrow morning until
you have denied three times that you even know me" (Luke 22:31-34).
Early the next morning, standing around the fire in the courtyard of the
high priest, Jesus' prophecy comes to pass. Peter's denial is so forceful
that he curses and swears, "I do not know the man." At that point the cock
crowed, just as Jesus had said, and Luke records an interesting detail in
the story. He writes in chapter 22, verse 61, "And the Lord turned and looked
at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord…"
If you're like me, you may have wondered, what was that look all about?
Communication professionals tell us that 70 to 90 percent of interaction
between people is non-verbal -- through facial expressions, gestures, voice
tone and volume. So Dr. Luke invites us into a moment of non-verbal communication
between Jesus and Peter, but we are not told what Jesus' intentions were.
All that the Gospel writer conveys is that after the look Peter went out and
So what was the look? Was Jesus saying, "See I told you so. You messed up,
Peter. You said you were going to follow me, but I'm out here by myself. Where
are you, Peter? You're supposed to be the leader."
Or was it something else?
I believe we are given insight into this moment between Jesus and Peter in
their final interaction on the earth. In John 21, beginning in verse
three, we see Peter and the other disciples hanging out at the Sea of
Galilee. Suddenly Peter declares, "I'm going fishing." The rest
decided to go along.
My guess is that Peter was not just saying, "I'm going for a fishing trip
today." I think what he really meant was, "I've blown it. Yeah, Jesus is wonderful,
and He's the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But I messed up. I'm going back to the life of a
fisherman because that's the only thing I know to do."
Now the Lord takes this opportunity to once again catch Peter's attention:
"So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn
the disciples saw Jesus standing on the beach, but they couldn't see who he
was. He called out, "Friends, have you caught any fish?" "No," they replied.
Then he said, "Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and
you'll get plenty of fish!" So they did, and they couldn't draw in the net
because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved
said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!'"
Doesn't this sound familiar? Look at Peter's reaction.
"When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he
had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and swam ashore. The others
stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were
only out about three hundred feet. When they got there, they saw that a charcoal
fire was burning and fish were frying over it, and there was bread."
Isn't it interesting that someone else had to tell Peter that it was God
speaking to him? He was so caught up in his remorse and self-pity that
he didn't even grasp that the Lord was replaying the events of that dramatic
day when Peter first met Him. But once he came out of the fog of his own guilt,
Peter couldn't help himself -- he jumped overboard and swam to Jesus just
as fast as he could.
When the disciples arrive on shore Jesus had breakfast waiting for them.
Sitting there around the campfire Jesus turns to Peter in front of the rest
and asks him the mother of all questions -- "Peter, do you love me?"
What do you do with a question like that? Each of us would have our answers. Mine might
sound something like this; "I've been working in the ministry my entire adult
life. Do you know how much I could be making if I worked for Disney, or Microsoft,
or some other major corporation? Of course I love you. I've given my everything for you."
Of course, these responses would be complete foolishness.
Like Peter, I might also say, "But Jesus, in the midst of all the struggles,
in the midst of the storm, I've blown it. I let you down. I messed up. I took
my eyes off of you. I said I would follow you to the death, but when
it got hard I started having those unclean thoughts. I gave in to that gossip.
I gave in to those impure thoughts."
"I went back to the old ways of doing
things. Back to what was familiar -- back to the fishing boats. I denied you, Jesus, even to the point where I cursed even knowing you."
How many of us have been there?
Like Peter, I've been broken before
the Lord to the point where I didn't even recognize it when God was doing
a miracle in front of my very eyes. Someone else had to say, "It's the Lord."
"Do you love me?" Jesus asks Peter three times -- once for every time he
denied him. How would you answer?
Peter replies sheepishly, "Of
course I love you."
Jesus lovingly responds to Peter, "Feed my sheep." He tells him three times,
until Peter finally understands -- this is all about the grace and the love
I'm convinced that when Jesus looked at Peter in the house of the high
priest, he wasn't communicating condemnation or contempt. Without words He
said to Peter, "It's O.K. I love you anyway. I know the condition of man.
I've lived with you for thirty-three years. I've seen my parents fight over
petty things. I've seen you disciples argue over who is going to be the greatest.
I've seen my cousin John murdered at the whim of a deranged king."
If you walk with the Lord for any length of time you will see the same thing
-- people who call themselves Christians, but do not exhibit biblical character.
Some would call them hypocrites. Others would condemn, or look down their
noses at them with a holier-than-thou attitude.
But not Jesus.
Like Peter, we've all blown it at one time or another. But Jesus extends
that look of love to us today. He's saying to you and me, "I love you no matter
He's also asking those who would call themselves disciples, "Do you
love me?" And if you answer "yes," He commands, "Feed My sheep."
Jesus loves His Church -- but He also has great compassion for
the people in the world who do not yet know Him. He's saying to the believer
today, "You know me, they don't. The only way they may ever know me is if you tell them. So be restored, be forgiven and be healed. Now go, feed my sheep. Even
if it costs you your life."
Peter received that restoration, and only a few days later he stood up in
Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost and declared boldly the message of the Kingdom.
A day after that he said to the lame man at the temple gate, "I don't have
silver or gold, but what I have -- that love, that healing, that restoration,
and that precious look from Jesus -- what I have I give to you. Rise up and
Do you need to know the love and forgiveness of Jesus? Do you need to look
into His face, and see that same look of compassion? Have you walked with
God, and are now far from Him because at one time you failed Him? He is asking
you today, "Do you love me?" If you answer "yes" to that question, He wants
you healed so that you, too, can feed His sheep.
If you want that freedom in your life pray this simple prayer with me:
Heavenly Father, I come to you in Jesus' name. I know that I am a sinner
and need your forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross for my sins
and rose from the grave to give me life. I know You are the only way to God
so now I want to quit disobeying You and start living for You. Please forgive
me, change my life and show me how to know You. In Jesus' name. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer, please send
us an e-mail to let us know. Or you can call The
700 Club Prayer Counseling Center at (800) 759-0700. We would love to
talk with you and send you some literature to help you begin your walk with
the Lord. Life with the Father is so rewarding.
A Higher Calling: Living the Christian Life
Find a Church Near You
E-mail your prayer requests
More Discipleship Resources
More from Spiritual Life
Craig your e-mail comments on this story.
More from Craig von Buseck on CBN.com
von Buseck is Ministries Director for CBN.com. Send
him your comments on this article.
books on Shop CBN
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.