Have you ever felt like you've missed out on an opportunity that you'll never have again? Have you ever felt deep regret over that lost opportunity that you'll never get to make up for?
I know of a guy who felt that way. His name was Peter.
PETER MEETING JESUS
You might know this story from Luke 5:3-11:
3 Jesus got into a boat which belonged to Simon. Jesus asked him to push it out a little way from land. Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Push out into the deep water. Let down your nets for some fish.” 5 Simon said to Him, “Teacher, we have worked all night and we have caught nothing. But because You told me to, I will let the net down.” 6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish, their net started to break. 7 They called to their friends working in the other boat to come and help them. They came and both boats were so full of fish they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he got down at the feet of Jesus. He said, “Go away from me, Lord, because I am a sinful man.” 9 He and all those with him were surprised and wondered about the many fish. 10 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were surprised also. They were working together with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will fish for men.” 11 When they came to land with their boats, they left everything and followed Jesus.
PETER'S RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS
Could you imagine if you were at your job one day, struggling to make ends meet, when all of the sudden God himself shows up and gives you the solution to your problem? You wouldn't have to ask Him if He were God or not. Like Peter, you'd just know it. Peter had a problem, and God had a solution. Jesus got his attention that day.
So Peter began to follow Jesus during His three year ministry. Peter was with Jesus when he cast out demons, healed blind eyes, and raised people from the dead. Peter witnessed God bringing solutions to man's problems. He continued to see the provision, faithfulness, and love of God displayed through His son. Peter was a disciple of Jesus. He was His close friend. He basically never left His side.
Unfortunately, like all people, Peter let Jesus down. When Jesus' ministry was coming to an end and it came time for Him to die, He and the disciples were on the way to the Mount of Olives to pray and prepare for his death. We read this story in Mark 14:
27 On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. 28 But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” 30 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” 31 “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.
Peter couldn't imagine denying Jesus. But Jesus knew Peter was an imperfect human who would fail Him. The prophesy comes true a little bit later that night:
66 Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by 67 and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth." 68 But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed. 69 When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” 70 But Peter denied it again. A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.” 71 Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.
We know that Peter broke down and wept that night once He realized that what Jesus had prophesied came true, but I wonder how Peter felt the next day when Jesus died. I'm sure He felt insufficient. Here was this man that He had been with for three years; who was the SON OF GOD! Peter witnessed so many of His miracles. He had a close, personal relationship with Jesus. I'm sure Peter felt shame for his actions. He probably felt a lot of regret, knowing He had lost Jesus and couldn't make up for his sinful mistake.
Now that Jesus had died, Peter had to get back to his somewhat normal life. Imagine having walked with Jesus every day and night for three years and all of the sudden losing Him. I imagine Peter resorted to doing what He did best: fishing.
But this isn't the end of the story.
Jesus had risen from the dead. It sounded impossible, but the disciples saw Him. Peter had hope again!
3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” the disciples said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. 4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. 6Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. 7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 8 The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. 9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. 10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn. 12 “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. 14 This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.
Can we just pause for a moment?
Do you remember when Peter first met Jesus? Peter couldn't catch any fish, so Jesus helped Him. He saw Peter's need and He fulfilled it. Fast forward to the end of the story, after Jesus and Peter's close friendship, after Peter's sin, and after Jesus had died and risen... Jesus showed up and helped Peter catch fish. Again, Jesus saw Peter's need and fulfilled it. Jesus didn't call Peter out for His sin. He didn't curse Peter. He didn't ignore Peter. He met him right where it all began, and Jesus' nature was just the same. Let's not forget that Jesus, knowing Peter was going to deny Him, still went and died for him.
But now, Peter didn't just need fish. He needed to restore His relationship with Jesus. He needed to tell Jesus that He loved Him.
15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. 16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. 17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep. 19 Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
Jesus not only reassured Peter that their relationship was not lost, but He commissioned Peter to follow in His footsteps and perform the same miracles once He would go up to Heaven.
IT'S THE SAME FOR US
This story moves me so much because I know we're no different than Peter.
We make mistakes all the time, whether it's hurting a friend or family member, falling into the same sin we keep trying to get past, or missing out on an opportunity that God presented.
The enemy likes to lie to us so we'll believe that we'll never get that opportunity again, we'll never be forgiven, or we'll never stop this sin.
But I believe Jesus is saying to us like He said to Peter, "Follow Me."
He always, always, always, always makes up for what's lost. He never holds our past against us. He never lets a loss stay a loss. He works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).
He calls us to brush off our knees after a hard fall and to get up and keep running with Him.
You don't have to live in regret. You don't have to fear that you'll miss out.
You're God's daughter. You're His disciple. Follow Him.