When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:32
Raj had trusted Jesus as Savior in his youth, but soon afterward, he drifted from the faith and led a life apart from God. Then one day, he made the decision to renew his relationship with Jesus and go back to church—only to be scolded by a woman who berated him for being absent for all these years. The scolding added to Raj’s sense of shame and guilt for his years of drifting. Am I beyond hope? he wondered. Then he recalled how Christ had restored Simon Peter (John 21:15–17) even though he’d denied Him (Luke 22:34, 60–61).
Whatever scolding Peter might have expected, all he received was forgiveness and restoration. Jesus didn’t even mention Peter’s denial but instead gave him a chance to reaffirm his love for Christ and take care of His followers (John 21:15–17). Jesus’ words before Peter disowned Him were being fulfilled: “When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).
Raj asked God for that same forgiveness and restoration, and today he’s not only walking closely with Jesus but serving in a church and supporting other believers as well. No matter how far we’ve strayed from God, He’s always ready not only to forgive us and welcome us back but also to restore us so we can love, serve, and glorify Him. We’re never too far from God: His loving arms are wide open.
What fears might you have about turning back to God? How can knowing His heart of forgiveness help you to return to Him?
Father, thank You for Your endless mercy and patience with me. Thank You that I can trust in Your everlasting love.
For further study, read Walking Free: Overcoming What Keeps Us from Jesus.
Jesus warned Peter that Satan had asked permission to test him and that he would falter in his faith (Luke 22:31–34). When Christ was arrested, all the disciples fled. But Peter and John had a change of heart and followed Jesus to the high priest’s house and were allowed to enter because John was “known to the high priest” (John 18:15–16). In the courtyard, Peter mingled with the high priest’s servants. There he crumbled under pressure and denied Jesus three times (Luke 22:54–61). Years later, Peter warned us: “Be alert . . . . Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).