Ever feel like you’ve messed up so badly God can’t forgive you? Or maybe you’re at a point where you’d like a “do over” with God. The great news is God meets His own where they are. He knows our limitations. He is fully aware of our flaws. And He has a track record of seeing us at our worst and being the first one to offer a hand up. That’s what today’s miracle is all about. It is fitting that His last miracle is the one that tells us we can start over with Him:
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. – John 21:4-7, ESV
The disciples had gone back to Galilee. We have no indication that Jesus and Peter had addressed Peter’s betrayal. Verses 1-2 tell us that Jesus did appear to Peter in Galilee, but we’re not given any details. And that’s what makes it very interesting that in verse 3 Peter says, “I’m going fishing.” The others join him. In a sense, the disciples are going back to where it all started. Peter likely wanted a “do over.” And he got one.
After Peter gets to shore and they eat, Peter and Jesus talk and Jesus restores Peter. He restores Peter’s confidence. He restores Peter’s understanding that Peter is still one of His. He restores Peter’s authority to serve and lead in the Kingdom. There wasn’t a dwelling or flogging about what Peter had done. That was in the past and Jesus was looking to the future. He was seeing what Peter would become, not what Peter was. The past was addressed. It was dealt with. The future remained. And Jesus helped Peter turn his eyes from his past to his future. Jesus offers to do the same with each one of us.
As C.J. Mahaney points out in The Cross-Centered Life, the Gospel means that our sins are dealt with and forgiven. We’re justified the moment we’re saved. Yes, we must deal with our sins and seek repentance and forgiveness for them, but once that’s done, it’s done in God’s eyes. We’re the ones who hold on. We’re the ones who won’t let go of the guilt and the shame. It’s as if we believe that beating ourselves up more will make us holier before God or something. But we have no personal holiness. Our holiness is imputed to us by Jesus Christ. We are holy only because we are His. So once we’ve taken our sins before God, we need to let them go. We’ve gotten our “do over” with God. And He will forgive us. He doesn’t go back on His word (pun intended).
Are you struggling with something you’ve already confessed to Him? Is it still weighing you down? That’s not God doing that to you. That weight hurts you and makes you less effective for the Kingdom. That runs contrary to what God wants to accomplish with you. He has offered to take the burden off your shoulders. And if you’ve confessed it, He will, as soon as you let go of it. If you’re struggling with something and you’ve not confessed it and dealt with it before God, why hold on to something that is just hurting you? He offered you His burden, which is light, and He’ll take yours. If you’re reading this and you’ve never come to Jesus Christ, never accepted His proper place as Lord and Master over your life, by doing so with your heart, by answering His call to be one of His for eternity, He will take all those past burdens from you. While this world might not let you start over, in His eyes you will. And His eyes are the only eyes that matter. Let us not be so weighed down by the burdens He has offered to carry that we cannot joyously love and serve Him. Let us not be encumbered by sins we’ve confessed and turned over that we are ineffective for the growth of His Kingdom. Let us instead feel the freedom He has offered us, freedom from the burden of sin and the freedom to obey and serve Him fully out of true love and devotion for Him!