Mark 16: 6-7 “And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.”
But now we come to the place where we see the shell of a man. A man broken by his own sin; wallowing in the guilt and shame of having denied the very Messiah he claimed to believe. His situation did not just come upon him – he was warned.
Luke 22:31-32 “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
As the crow of the rooster rung out and the look on Jesus’ face when their eyes met; the guilt, the shame and the overwhelming sense of failure that Peter must have felt was literally crushing his spirit.
He rushed from that place and the Bible says “wept bitterly“
The time we fail to heed the warnings of the Word of God, we look back and wonder why we did not believe God the first time? The hindsight we are afforded should teach us… should it not?
Our enemy does not fight fair. I can only imagine the amount of things that played over and over in Peter’s mind. “Get thee behind me Satan”
Luke 22:34 “And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”
Not once. Not twice, but, three times he denied that he knew Jesus. And as that third denial left his lips, the old sailor in him surfaced as he cursed and swore.
This was not something done in secret or away from the public eye; this was in front of people who had seen him and known exactly who he was. Often, the pathway back is made more difficult by pride. “What will people think?”
In answer to Jesus’ prayer, the angel who announced the resurrection said:
“But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter…”
Peter was already in the midst of the worst trial of his life. You can bet the enemy was seeking to crush him underneath the overwhelming guilt and shame that he felt. The announcement was to include Peter – though he didn’t feel much like a follower of Jesus at the time.
The true failure would have been for Peter to lose his faith in Jesus as Savior. But God reached out through the angel to include Peter in the announcement. It may very well have been that Peter wasn’t even in the same place as the other disciples. Yet, God sought him out to include him in the good news!
I have asked myself; “How could I do such a thing if I am a saved, child of God?” I have doubted my salvation over issues of sin and failure that have revealed my weaknesses. I doubted my worth as a child of God. I have doubted my standing with God because of what I’ve done.
Those doubts, fears and lies of the devil were dispelled in this truth: God’s love for me is not dependent upon my actions. His love toward me is even in spite of how I behave. His love is based on commitment – not on what I have done for Him.
All sin – its punishment, payment and penalty was fully taken by Jesus Christ on the cross. My sin that I have committed and will commit affects the closeness of my relationship with my Savior – it can never sever it.
The guilt and shame of my sin should drive me to get on my knees and confess and forsake the very thing that separates me in my relationship with my God.
Keeping short accounts with God – from the time that I sin to the time that I confess and forsake – brings back the close fellowship; the sweet spirit of humility, submission and obedience that was missing when I chose to sin in the first place.
The guilt that we feel and the shame that comes from acknowledging our part are tools to restoration not instruments of punishment. It can become chains of bondage when we fail to allow those feelings to drive us to our knees.
When the desire to keep our sin or – regard iniquity in our heart overtakes the desire to confess and forsake, we will experience the chains of bondage until we are willing to come to repentance.
Jesus knew that Peter was going to fail. He loved him so much that he planted the seed and showed light upon the path for Peter to come to grips with his own guilt and shame.
Ultimately, Peter’s brokenness over his failure brought him to such a place of usefulness and service, that God used him to preach at Pentecost and see thousands come to Christ.
It doesn’t make sense to us. We seem to want to avoid such things as guilt and shame. Yet, if my sin did not cause a pang of guilt and bend my spirit low with shame, I would wonder how far have I gone from the love of my God?
My numbness to the sin in my own life will keep me away from experiencing the presence of my Heavenly Father; the peace that only He can bring and the wonderful clean feeling that being right with God!
Allow God to have His way with you. Use the guilt you feel to drive you back to a right relationship with your Heavenly Father! We have a principle in our addiction program:
“God balances guilt with blame. Accept the blame and God removes the guilt.”
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”