If you ever need any confirmation that God gives second chances, remember how Jesus foretells the restoration of Peter.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)
Have you ever felt the crushing weight of disappointment and anguish that comes from failing Christ?
In that moment, it doesn’t seem possible that God would ever forgive us. We wonder why God would have anything more to do with us after we have done something detestable to Him?
And yet, God’s forgiveness is available to us, even when we fail. God gives second chances to us, even in the face of reprehensible actions.
The question is, will we do what it takes for God to restore us into His fellowship?
Peter Needed a Second Chance
Today’s passage is part of a story familiar with most in the church – Peter’s denial of Jesus Christ. The time of Christ’s arrest was a time of great fear and anxiety for the disciples. In this state, Peter openly refuted that he ever knew Jesus Christ in front of many witnesses.
When he heard a rooster crow (which was explicitly mentioned in Christ’s prediction of Peter’s denial), we are told that he went off to be alone, weeping bitterly (Luke 22:61).
It’s not difficult to imagine the weight of shame that hung over Peter in that moment. Peter had no doubts as to Jesus being the Messiah (Mark 8:29). He was also one of the very few to be a witness at Christ’s transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-10).
In our humanness, we can understand and appreciate the incredible pressure Peter was facing. Jesus had been arrested. The attitudes of those who wished to kill Jesus surely wasn’t lost on the disciples. But it was a betrayal, nevertheless.
Not to mention Jesus had openly taught that those who denied Him, Christ would deny before His Father in Heaven (Matthew 10:33). These very words may have been echoing over and over again in Peter’s mind as the tears rolled down his face, his own wails filling his ears.
The idea that God gives second chances would have been far from Peter’s mind. God gave us emotions, and he gave us the ability to feel conviction, and those were honest feelings for Peter to have in that moment.
Peter Got His Second Chance
After Christ’s resurrection, we have several accounts in the gospels where He appeared to the disciples and to others. In John 21 we are told of a particular encounter with Peter.
Most teachings on this passage usually focus on the 3 times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, and Jesus’ response.
In this passage there is an even more straightforward way to see that God gives second chances. We can see thiss when after the exchange, Jesus simply says “follow Me” (John 21:18). Jesus is inviting Peter back into His fellowship.
Although we don’t see it specifically called out in this account (and in fact may have happened prior to this telling), what we do know is that at some point Peter repented from His denial.
How do we know? Because repentance is what is required for restoration to occur. God gives second chances, but second chances are not automatic; they require us to repent and turn back to Him.
The good news is that God gives us ample opportunity to confess sin to Him (1 John 1:9). Even when those sins show a pattern of turning away from God for a time. If we repent and turn towards God again, following Christ with all our hearts, He will forgive and restore us.
Jesus both affirms what is required of Peter and that Peter would do what is required in today’s passage. Jesus said, “when you have repented and turned to me again”.
Peter Used His Second Chance
We see in today’s passage that Peter is not only accepted, he is also restored to his former role. Jesus reminds Peter that once he has repented and turned back to Christ, he is to strengthen his brothers.
At Christ’s instruction, Peter and the rest of the disciples awaited the gift of the Holy Spirit before spreading the gospel across the known world. From that point forward, Peter – along with the rest of the disciples – would live transformed lives.
That is the promise that comes with our repentance. When God gives second chances, it is with the intent to restore us into the kingdom, to once again be about his work. This is very different from the type of restoration that man does. “I can forgive but I can’t forget” restoration is not restoration at all. and certainly not the restoration that God is about.
God’s forgiveness is complete – when He forgives, He releases us from the shackles of sin (Jeremiah 31:33-34). God does not invite us into His kingdom to be a second-class citizen. Even when we have failed Him and are being restored after repentance.
Did you need to be reminded today that God gives second chances? If so, please repent and turn once again to Him, and then do what is necessary to abide with Him so you may be empowered to holy living.
More Bible verses about God gives second chances:
Psalm 86:15; Lamentations 3:21-23; Ezekiel 33:12-16; Micah 7:18; Luke 7:14; Philippians 1:6; Colossians 3:12-15