Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
History is filled with accounts of what could best be described as epic interpersonal failures, instances where people got it truly, horrible wrong in how they treated each other. Joseph’s brothers determine to kill him and then instead settle for the “kindness” of merely selling him into slavery. Samson’s wife says, “Honey, please tell me the answer to your riddle,” and he says, “I haven’t even told my mom and dad; why would I tell you?” David steals the wife of one of his dearest friends, then murders him to cover it all up.
But I suspect no failure in all of humanity wrecked a man quite like the failure of Peter.
Just before Jesus made his way to Calvary to die for all of us, he warned his men that all of them would fail him that night and that Peter would go so far as to deny that he even knew him. He told him that before the cock crowed twice, Peter would openly deny him three times. Peter, naturally, assured him that even if all men denied him, he himself would never do so. And yet…
Matthew 26:74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Making this hideous failure on the part of Peter even more devastating, it happened right in the same room where Jesus was being tormented. Christ heard it all and looked Peter eyeball to eyeball as he cursed and denied that he even knew him:
Luke 22:61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Peter was now officially ruined. This strong, brash, tough man ran out into the night weeping like a baby. He did so with the realization that, in one way, he was even worse than Judas himself. Judas had betrayed Jesus, but even he had not denied even knowing him.
The death of Jesus was the most unique of all deaths, though, in that it had a built-in expiration date. He had told them repeatedly that he would rise again on the third day, and that is exactly what he did. Some ladies were the first to realize it. And they were also given a message from Jesus by the angels there at the tomb, a message that contained two very intentional and crucial words, “and Peter.”
Mark 16:6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
And Peter. What in the world was that about? It was not, as some have taken it, a stab at Peter, a reminder of his failure, a notice that he had forfeited his place as a disciple. Rather, it was a love note to Peter and was followed by the fact that Jesus wanted to see all of them, even Peter, in Galilee shortly. It was Jesus saying, “Peter, you have had a really bad few days. Peter, when I needed you the most, you did just what I told you that you would do; you denied even knowing me. Peter, that hurt me more than you could possibly imagine. But Peter, everything you did to me that day was a sin. And I died for sin. All of them. I paid for them. That cursing? That denying? I bore that to the cross in my own body. Peter, it is all forgiven. Peter, your love for me failed, but my love for you has never failed. Peter, you may have thought you were done and washed up, but I am not done with you yet, and you are just getting started. Peter, we have a lot to talk about, but just know for now that I am sending this message specifically by name to you because your heart is broken, and I want to fix it.”
We know, in the words of the late great Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story.” Peter went on from there to preach on the day of Pentecost and see 3000 souls saved in one message. He later preached again and saw 5000 saved in one message. He wrote two precious books of the New Testament. Through those two words “and Peter,” Jesus began the process of restoration on a very broken man, and the restoration came out perfect.
I know a lot of broken people. I guess we all do. But I also just so happen to know Someone who delights in calling failures back to himself and making more out of them than anyone ever thought possible.
You, friend, may have even gone so far as to deny Christ. You may be too embarrassed to even show your face among God’s people right now. But the same Christ of “and Peter” is also the Christ of “and Sally” and “and George” and “and fill-in-the-blank with every other name.”
Peter seems to have never forgotten what Christ did for him. This rough old fisherman later wrote the tender words of 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” It is hard to imagine that Peter was not thinking of those words “and Peter” as he wrote that.
If you are still breathing, your story isn’t over, and Christ would love to restore you from broken to beautiful.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner