There are few things worse than regret due to personal failure. For some their regret is so massive they can’t go on living. Peter is a poster boy for personal failure… regret… and redemption. I suggest reading two passages first… Mt 26:69-75, John 18:25-27. Now, here is Jesus’ prophesy regarding Peter’s personal failure as found in Luke 22:31-34…
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
There is so much in these four verses I must encourage you to fill in what I leave out. I do have a few personal reflections that are more thought starters than complete examination.
First, consider the spiritual element hidden from us. In some way, maybe as found in Job 1:6-12, Satan wanted to test Peter. It is more likely than possible this has transpired and you are unaware of Satan’s request and God’s permission granted along with The Spirit strengthening you for the test.
Second, Jesus sometimes grants Satan’s requests WITH CONDITIONS (Job 1:12; 2:6). These conditions always accomplish God’s glory and the believer’s sanctification (The opposite of what Satan intends and desires). Satan was allowed to sift Peter like wheat, BUT Jesus had prayed for him and the outcome was already determined (“And when you HAVE turned again…”).
Third, even in tests and personal failure God’s ultimate purposes and will are accomplished… without exception (Phil 1:6; 2:13). This is a hopeful truth for us! We know God will not abandon us AND that we will come out of the test more like Jesus. Remember… You cannot mess up your life, and neither can anyone else, to the point of God not using you for His glory.
Fourth, consider Peter’s third denial that he may have cursed Jesus. One commentator suggested the best way Peter could prove he was not a follower of Jesus was to actually curse Jesus himself. Another suggested Peter said something like, “May God kill and damn me if I am not speaking the truth” when he denied being a follower of Christ. No matter the size of your failures, the do not rise to this level. But when Peter turned again Jesus chose him to be the leader of the early church. Again… You cannot mess up your life, and neither can anyone else, to the point of God not using you for His glory.
Last, if you can, put yourself in Peter’s place the moment the rooster crowed and Jesus looked at him. The depth of his shame and guilt overwhelmed him. I imagine the rest of that night, all day Saturday, and Saturday night he grieved. Every time he heard a rooster, he probably replayed the event in his mind. Peter entered the depths of depression, beating himself up constantly. Regretting a personal failure of this magnitude is unimaginable. How many times did he consider, “Oh if I had only…”?