Remorse, Regret, and Tender Mercy

“The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.”—Psalm 145:9 He had betrayed his best friend. Badly. Again and again. The exact thing he had promised not to do, he did.

He watched his friend paraded through town, an object of scorn, ridiculed, and falsely accused. Rather than stand up, as he had so gallantly promised, Peter crumbled in fear and confusion.

“No, I don’t know Him,” he said.

Three times Peter denied knowing Jesus. Three times he turned away from his closest friend.

Now he was drowning in guilt.

It must have been hard to think, to reason, to breathe.

What bitter remorse and regret Peter must have felt. He had abandoned Jesus in His most desperate hour. And the look Jesus gave him just before dawn, just before He went to His death—it would haunt Peter forever.

Skip ahead now to the end of the Gospels, after the Resurrection. Jesus’ suffering is over. He is walking on the seashore in search of His friends. Who did He specifically seek out? Peter! They had unfinished business. But it was not retribution, not punishment nor rebuke that Jesus intended. It was mercy. Tender mercy.

As they shared breakfast on the seashore, Jesus did more than forgive Peter. He gave him the chance to make things right. Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus gave him three chances to declare his loyalty and love (John 21).

Then Jesus went a step further. He gave Peter a purpose and direction for his life. He challenged Peter with a commission, which Peter fulfilled until his death.

“Feed My sheep,” Jesus said, giving Peter a job. “Follow Me,” He told him, which Peter did for the rest of his life.

The Lord’s mercies are tender, loving, and kind. Just as He gave Peter a purpose, the Lord has such plans for good for each of us.

Throughout my personal life and ministry, I have been moved and motivated by the deep, abiding love and mercy of God. Over all of His good works, God’s tender mercies abide, and that is what makes everything else possible.