What Happens When We Screw Up?

This week at Everyday Truth, we're celebrating Easter with a family devotional each day. Each one is designed to be used with your kids to take a look at a different aspect of the Easter story.

Today, let's talk about one of my favorite figures in the Bible -- Peter. He plays a small but important role in the events leading up to Jesus' death. Peter was the disciple I would vote as Most Likely to Say the Wrong Thing. He rarely thought before he spoke and was always rushing into the things. Jesus had to save Peter from his own impulsiveness more than once.

Peter was the guy that jumped out of the boat when Jesus was walking on the water. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he could walk on the water, too. But when he looked down at the water and let fear and doubt creep in, he began to sink. Jesus had to save him.

During the final meal Jesus would eat with his disciples, Peter again became the center of attention. He made some rash statements that would come back to haunt him later. Look at what happens in Luke 22:31-34:

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

Peter didn't believe that he could ever turn his back on Jesus. Yet, just hours later, after Jesus had been taken away by the Roman soldiers, Peter would be asked three times if he was one of Jesus' followers. Three times he would deny that he belonged to the group of people that followed Jesus. And then the rooster crowed.

Peter screwed up. At the moment when it was most difficult to be a follower of Jesus, Peter turned his back on Jesus. He said he didn't know Jesus.

That could have been the end of the story, but it's not. We know that Jesus was crucified and rose again three days later. We're going to look at those two big events tomorrow and the next day. For now, let's focus on what happened to Peter after Jesus rose from the dead.

Jesus appeared to his disciples several times after he rose again. One day, Jesus appeared to the disciples while they were out fishing. Look at what happens in John 21:7: "Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ;It is the Lord!' As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, 'It is the Lord,' he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water." Peter had not forgotten how much he loved Jesus. He was so excited to see Him again that he couldn't even wait for the boat to get to the shore. He jumped out to reach Jesus.

Then, Jesus did something important. He forgave Peter and gave him the task of looking after the people who would become the early church. In John 21:15-19, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Jesus. Peter answers yes all three times. Jesus then tells Peter to feed Jesus' sheep. Despite Peter's major screw-up, Jesus is putting Peter in charge of caring for His followers. It's a big responsibility and one that will ultimately end in Peter's death.

Why is all of this important for us? Because when we follow Jesus, it is inevitable that at some point, we will screw it up. We will not stand up for Jesus when we should or we will pretend we don't know Jesus when it would make us uncomfortable. But, just like Peter, when we screw up, Jesus is waiting to forgive us and say again to us "Follow me."

Can you think of a time when you pretended you didn't know Jesus? Maybe a time when you made a choice that you knew went against God's commands? Those are the moments when we turn our backs on Jesus. When we do that, we need to ask for forgiveness and try again. Jesus is waiting for us to acknowledge our poor choice and jump right back in to following Him. His death on the cross allows Him to offer us that forgiveness.

So, when we have our "Peter moments" when we choose to ignore Jesus, remember that Jesus is simply waiting for us to come crashing out of the boat to return to Him. And, He's always willing to forgive our screw-ups and set us back on the right path -- because He loves us.