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 22:32 (NLT)
Jesus was on his journey to the cross where he would make a public forever statement about forgiveness. And in this conversation with Peter, Peter was so sure of himself. He stood there and spoke words about facing death for Jesus and being in it all the way. He didn't know his heart would betray him. But Jesus did.
Isn't it the same with us? We betray Jesus every time we choose a path other than the one that he wants for us. Every time we say "No, Lord. That's too hard." or "This is too uncomfortable." or "I want to do it my way." We may not say it exactly like that but, whenever we do what we want instead of what Jesus wants, we are acting like Peter. And like Peter, we may not know ourselves as well as we think we do, but Jesus knows us.
Why did Jesus make this statement to Peter? Wouldn't the cross have been enough of a You are forgiven statement for Peter and for us? Somehow, I don't think so. I think we would look at that and say "But I denied him. That doesn't apply to me." So Jesus made sure that Peter knew that after all was said and done, there was still a plan for him. He said "When you have repented and turned to me again." When not if. Jesus let him know that there was still a plan for his life. And when he said that to Peter, he said that to us.
I don't know about you but I find great comfort in this story. I have denied Jesus with my decisions and I have made some terrible mistakes in my life. But Jesus was praying for me. He was saying "When you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers." He is saying the same to you.
No matter what you have done, no matter where you have been, grace is greater than all that. You are forgiven.