God loves to give a second chance! In fact, God loves to give second, third, and fourth, chances. You fill in your own number. Peter’s story of denial sets the stage for the lesson of second chances. Many of us, like Peter, have denied Jesus along the way. For a season, we have abandoned our faith and fellowship with Jesus. Like Peter, we need a second chance.
Peter had good intentions, but he needed a second chance. He never intended to deny the Lord, but He did. Peter had great passion. Remember, he cut off someone’s ear in defense of Jesus, yet even in this kind of passion, he needed a second chance. His sin led to great guilt, so he needed a second chance. His three time denial of Jesus indicates his repeated sin and therefore need for a second chance. Peter’s story mirrors so many of our stories.
So, what was necessary for Peter to get a second chance? First, he needed the compassion of Jesus. Read the story in John 21. Jesus meets the disciples at the sea. Jesus tells them where to fish. Jesus cooks. Jesus invites. At every point in this story, Jesus is the one initiating the activity. That’s Jesus. He is always pursuing us. Wherever you are in relationship to Christ today, He is compassionately pursuing you. If you are an unbeliever, He is lovingly and patiently calling you today. If you have strayed from Him, He is calling for your return. If you are abiding with Him, He lovingly is calling you to launch even deeper—trust more completely.
Next, Peter needed to be confronted by Jesus. Restoration does not happen without confrontation from Jesus.
Third, Peter was contrite about his sin. Where there is compassion and confrontation in regards to our sin, there ought to be contrition. Peter was grieved. Again, not grieved that Jesus asks three times, but rather the third time brought him back to the third denial and this grieved Peter. It seems to me to be a good thing to grieve over our sin. Not forever, of course, because of forgiveness, but initially, we are to grieve over our sin. The Psalmist understood this in Psalm 51, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
Finally, we need to understand that our second chance is a call for renewed commitment. When Jesus first called Peter and you and me, He said, “Come follow me.” Now He says, “Follow me.” God’s invitation for a second chance is not an invitation for another denial, another failure, but rather a new commitment.
It’s hard not to fast forward just a bit and remember what happened to Peter. Did this breakfast on the beach make a difference? The Book of Acts tells us that it did. It is Peter who preaches as recorded in Acts 2 and 3,000 people are saved at one time. It is Peter before the Sanhedrin who proclaimed, “There is salvation in no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). And it is Peter, when commanded to not preach the name of Jesus replied, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)
Just as Peter did, you can begin again today!