61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61-62 NIV)
Picture a hale and hearty Peter, with muscles bulging from hauling in huge nets full of fish. This was a strong man with strong opinions, who was very confident in his ability to do what he set out to do. And somehow he set out to follow Jesus with that same brashness and self-confidence.
Then his new world with Jesus began to fall apart. Yet he still remained bluff and determined. In fact, at one point toward the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Peter had just said that he was ready to go to prison with or even to die for Him when Jesus predicted Peter’s denial. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning you will deny three times that you even know me. (Luke 22:34)
The most important thing to notice in this story is what Jesus said just before Peter’s affirmation of his willingness to suffer for Jesus. He said, 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)
Jesus knew that Peter would fail Him in His final hour. He did not pray that he remain strong and loyal. He prayed that his faith would not fail after his denial. He prayed that Peter would again repented and turn to Him again. And He knew that Peter would repent and return to Him. That’s why He gave Peter the assigned task to strengthen his brothers.
What do we do when we know we should be strong and disciplined, and yet. we fail–sometimes multiple times? We repent again, and turn back to Him again. The devil loves to make us feel unworthy and incapable of being under the love of God. But we were and are and always will be unworthy. God’s love is His gift of grace, not something we earn through righteousness. Our only righteousness is in Him and it’s ours whenever we repent and turn back to Him, He is ready to fill us and use us to strengthen others. But we can never give up–no matter how many times we fail. If God’s grace is sufficient once, it is sufficient always.