Peter’s zeal is familiar to most of us. The first disciple whom Jesus called, Peter instantly left nets and boats in order to catch men instead (Luke 5:1–11).
It was Peter who asked Jesus to invite him to walk on water (Matt. 14:28); Peter who planned to host Moses, Elijah, and the transfigured Christ (Matt. 17:4); Peter who protested Christ’s crucifixion (Matt. 16:22) and then resorted to violence at his arrest (John 18:10). It was Peter who boldly declared, “I will never fall away” (Matt. 26:33).
Peter’s assertions of love for Christ were loud and public. His denial was quieter—a brief word here and there in a dark courtyard (see Matt. 26:69–74)—but it immediately produced heart-rending grief (see v. 75). As dawn broke on Good Friday, he confronted the fact that his spiritual devotion was not what he wanted it to be.
Bitter Tears of the Pastor’s Wife
As a pastor’s wife, I can relate. Peter’s bitter tears are the tears shed by all who have lofty plans to follow Christ fully, but who know their actions sometimes tell a different story.
Peter’s tears are the tears of everyone who feels like a spiritual fraud.
They are the tears of the pastor’s wife who affirms the importance of Christlike hospitality, but who balks at inviting that family with rambunctious children. They are the tears of the pastor’s wife who encourages others to pray and read their Bibles daily, but who struggles to discipline herself to do the same. They are the tears of the pastor’s wife who wants to practice bold evangelism, but who fades into silence in front of her unbelieving coworkers.
They are the tears of everyone who feels like a spiritual fraud.
Restoration in Christ
Thankfully, Christ did not leave Peter to sink in despair. With tenderness and love, the Lord came to him:
Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15)
This verse, along with the surrounding narrative that describes Peter’s restoration, can encourage pastors’ and elders’ wives in three ways when we feel the weight of our own failure to live up to the faith we profess.
1. Christ Is Not Surprised
Christ’s tender words remind us that our failures are no surprise to him. Although Jesus was not physically present at the time of Peter’s denial, he already knew every detail about it (John 13:38). Our prayerless days, uncomprehending Bible reading, and reluctant service to the church do not shock our Lord.
Our prayerless days, uncomprehending Bible reading, and reluctant service to the church do not shock our Lord.
Nor does he respond to us with frustration. As he did after Peter’s fall, Christ still seeks us out—not in exasperation but in love.
2. Christ Loves to Restore
This incident also reminds us that our sins arise from a lack of love for Christ, and that he is the only one who can restore us. “Do you love me?” is Christ’s invitation to a renewed fellowship with him (John 21:15).
When we fall, we can go to the very object of our offense for the forgiveness that we need.
3. Christ Uses the Weak
Finally, Peter’s restoration reminds us that Christ still uses the weak within his kingdom. Not only does Christ forgive Peter; he also equips him to serve others for God’s glory (John 21:15–17).
Christ still uses the weak within his kingdom.
So, go ahead, invite that difficult family for ice cream, pick up your neglected Bible-reading plan, or ask a coworker to a church event. The Lord can use you—starting right now.
Dear sister, have you faltered? Hear the gentle welcome of Christ: “Do you love me?”