(The following is the May 4 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read John 21 and pay close attention to verses 15-19.)
After denying Jesus three times before the crucifixion, Peter wept bitterly (Luke 22:62). He must have wondered how he could have failed so horribly. But Jesus had a plan to restore Peter.
One morning after the resurrection, Jesus ate with the disciples. After breakfast, Jesus asked Peter three times some form of the question, “Do you love me?” Peter affirmed each time that he did love the Lord. Following each affirmation, Jesus gave Peter a command – “Feed my lambs,” “Shepherd my sheep,” or “Feed my sheep” (vv. 15-17). Jesus told Peter more about what was ahead for him, including the death by which Peter would glorify God.
Our loving and merciful God can restore any broken relationship regardless of the depth of the chasm between him and the person. He is undoubtedly a God of second chances (and third, fourth, and many more). We see this in his three-fold restoration of Peter following Pater’s three denials. Many can testify to repeated experiences of coming to God in repentance and confession, experiencing the joy of a renewed closeness with Christ and more profound love for him.
We must be cautious, though, regarding the Lord’s mercy. We must never misuse the knowledge that we serve a God of second chances, eagerly sinning while planning to pull out a second-chance card later for his forgiveness. Such deliberate sin followed by shallow, false sorrow is not how repentance works and suggests unbelief rather than genuine belief and love for Christ.
There will be a day when it is too late to repent and turn to Christ. Until then, if we experience godly grief that produces genuine repentance (2 Cor. 7:10), our merciful God will restore us to himself.
How has God given you additional chances in life? Do you know someone who may benefit from hearing about your experience?