A Monument to Failure
How would you like to have a monument erected that reminds everyone of your greatest mistake? That’s exactly what happened to Arnold Palmer, the 1960 Golfer of the Year. He shot a 12 on the Par 5 ninth hole at Rancho Park Golf Course in Los Angeles. A plaque was placed there to commemorate the event. It reads, “On Friday, January 6, 1961, the first day of the 35th Los Angeles Open, Arnold Palmer, voted Golfer of the Year and Pro-Athlete of the Year, took a twelve on this hole.”
Even the great National Hockey League goalie Jacques Plante once bemoaned, “How would you like to have a job where every time you made a mistake, a red light goes on and twenty thousand people boo?”
I Don’t Know Him
The Apostle Peter has been memorialized for the greatest mistake that he ever made. The account is recorded for all to read in Matthew 26:69–75.
- 68–69 – “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” … “But he denied it before them all, saying, ‘I do not know what you are saying.’”
- 71–72 – “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” … “But again he denied it saying, ‘I do not know the man.’”
- 73–74 – “Surely you are also one of them.” … “He began to curse and swear, saying, ‘I do not know the Man.’”
- 75 – “Then Peter remembered the words of Jesus, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ … “So he went out and wept bitterly.”
Ask anyone who has even a little knowledge of the Bible why Peter is the most famous of the twelve apostles and they will reply, “He denied Jesus.” Perhaps some of you have reached a similar low point in your life. Like Peter, you are saying to yourself, “I’ve really done it this time. I’ve done the unforgivable. There is no hope for me.”
Let me leave you with two words from another gospel that will encourage you and all the other “Peters” who have messed up big time. Two words that you will never forget. Two words taken straight from the Bible. Two very powerful words that accomplish three things:
- They convince me that God wrote this Book.
- They teach me how God deals with failures.
- They assure me of God’s complete forgiveness.
What two words can accomplish so much? Where are they found? The answer is in Mark 16:7 – “But go, tell his disciples, and Peter, that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”
The two words are, “and Peter.”
You remember the context of this passage. Very early in the morning, the women had come to the tomb with spices to anoint the dead body of Jesus, and to their surprise, they encountered an angel. He told them not to be afraid. He gave them the amazing news that Jesus was not there and that He had risen from the dead. He then instructed them to tell His disciples that they would see Jesus for themselves in Galilee.
But notice that the angel didn’t just say, “Go and tell his disciples that the resurrected Jesus will go before them into Galilee and that they will see Him there.” No, his exact instruction was, “Go and tell His disciples, and Peter.” Don’t leave Peter out! Make sure that Peter hears this.
“And Peter” convinces me that God wrote this Book.
Only God would have added the two words, “and Peter.” Once again, what was Peter’s great sin? He denied the Lord. If Peter only heard the message, “Go and tell his disciples,” surely he would have said to himself, “It does not include me. It cannot mean me, in light of what I have done. I have disqualified myself as a disciple.”
The Lord knew that these two words would give the fallen apostle hope.
“And Peter” teaches me how God deals with failures.
Like Peter, maybe you may have a “ball and chain” background, that is still very much in the foreground, putting you underground. You are crippled over sinful things that you have done; embarrassing things that you are ashamed of; unnecessary pain that you have caused. You know that you have grieved the Lord and disappointed many people.
Let “And Peter” give you hope, my friend. Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Our God is the God of “second chances.” Consider two well-known Old Testament failures who had blown it big time. Was there a “second chance” for Samson? What about the runaway prophet Jonah? Read on.
- Judges 16:22 – “However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven.”
- Jonah 3:1 – “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.”
And think about Mark, the gospel writer who penned, “and Peter.” We know this about him:
- Acts 13:13 – “John (Mark) departed from them and returned to Jerusalem.”
- Acts 15:37–38 – “Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who departed from them.”
- 1 Peter 5:13 – “She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark, my son.”
- 2 Timothy 4:11 – “Get Mark and bring him with you for he is profitable to me for the ministry.”
Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Our God is the God of “second chances.”
The one once known as a deserter has been restored to ministry. The one who once left his post has been given a “second chance.” Let me put it this way:
- “Second Chance Mark” was befriended by “Second Chance Peter” and commended by “Second Chance Paul,” the chief of sinners. (1 Tim. 1:15)
Don’t you just love this gospel of grace? As it says in Romans 5:20, “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”
“Second Chance Mark” was befriended by “Second Chance Peter” and commended by “Second Chance Paul,” the chief of sinners.
“And Peter” illustrates how God forgives.
Consider these profound examples from Scripture:
- Psalm 99:8 – “You were to them the God-Who-Forgives.”
- Psalm 103:3,10 – “He forgives all your iniquities.” – “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.”
- Acts 13:38 – “Therefore let it be known to you brethren, that through this Man, Christ Jesus, is preached to you the forgiveness of sins.”
- 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
- Hebrews 8:12 – “Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more.”
The God of the Bible is the Great Forgiver.
Peter must have believed that. We read earlier that Peter “went out and wept bitterly.” Don’t you wonder what went on in Peter’s heart during those dark hours of remorse? What did he say to himself? What did he pray to God? I suspect he prayed the words of David, another fallen saint: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then, I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” (Psalm 51:10–13)
Peter, the denier, received complete pardon, cleansing, and forgiveness from God. He was freed from the guilt and shame of his past, as though it had never happened. How else could he charge the religious rulers with the very sin that he himself had once committed: “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you.” (Acts 3:13–14)
Yes, God is the Great Forgiver to all who will confess and repent of their sin, and appropriate the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross of Calvary. Won’t you bring your mistakes, failures, and regrets to Him and receive your second chance?
God’s two-word message to some of us today may very well be: “And Peter.”
Copyright © 2023 Sandy Robertson. All rights reserved
Sandy Robertson has been actively involved in pastoral and teaching ministry for more than thirty years. In 1981, God called him out of a successful sales and marketing career into full-time ministry. Since 2003, Sandy has been the senior pastor of New Covenant Fellowship, a non-denominational church in Titusville, Florida. He and his wife Beth have been married for over 50 years and have two daughters (one deceased) and five grandchildren. Originally from Canada, they have resided in the United States since 1999 and are now American citizens.